Rotherham United could be ready to put weeks of training-ground preparation into practice as they look to unlock the talent of summer signing David Ball.
Ball scored 14 goals for Fleetwood Town last season but has endured a frustrating start to his Millers career, spending much of the campaign in the treatment room or on the bench.
But manager Paul Warne has hinted the 27-year-old will feature in tomorrow’s home clash against second-placed Wigan Athletic as his side look to end a run of five League One matches without a win.
“I think Saturday could be a game where he has an influence on us,” the boss said.
“Bally is a really good footballer who can have it in tight areas. I just don’t think, when he plays, the lads give him the ball enough. We’ve been working on, if we do play with a ‘10’, how to get the ball to him and how to trust him.
“In that respect, Bally has had a lot of attention from us over the last few weeks. He’s more aware of the fact now that, if he does get a chance in the team, his performances have to be of a standard to keep him in it.”
Ball, regarded by Warne as “an out and out No 10”, doesn’t fit into the 4-1-4-1 line-up which took Rotherham into the play-off places before their recent dip.
If the player, who has made three starts and seven substitute appearances in the league, is selected against the Latics, the Millers may switch to a 4-4-1-1 system or even play two up front.
“I speak to Bally more than most players,” Warne said. “I had him in this week, going through his games, seeing where he can make runs to get more of the ball.
“To get the best out of him, we’d have to change our formation, definitely. If Bally played, you’d have to flip the midfield round.
“It’s the one-million-dollar question. You play Bally, but then you have less defensive cover. If your head was on the block, would you play Bally because you want to go more attacking or would you stick with the sitting midfielder and try to get more solid and not as strong up top?
“Bally was injured and the team went on a really good run. Now he has to fight his way in. I keep saying to him: ‘It’s not my job to put you in the team, it’s your job to get into the team.’”