Caretaker boss Paul Warne is crossing his fingers that Rotherham United dangerman Izzy Brown will be fit for Saturday’s South Yorkshire derby showdown at Sheffield Wednesday.
The Chelsea loan youngster was posing major problems for the Fulham defence in the Millers’ 2-1 defeat on Tuesday night until he was forced out of the action nine minutes before half-time with a hamstring complaint.
And the 19-year-old attacker could be a key figure in the Hillsborough clash if he is given the medical all-clear to play.
“I hope he’s not ruled out,” Warne told The Star. “I don’t know because I’m not a physio, but I’m hoping he hasn’t pulled it and that it’s just tightened up. “He has a lot of tight muscles, Izz, to be fair. He’s constantly say his calves are tight, his hammys are tight!
“You could see he wasn’t moving right, but all of a sudden he would go on a run and you’d think: ‘Is he right, is he not right?’ In the end, I didn’t want to risk him and he be out for three or four weeks, so reluctantly I took him out.”
Rotherham’s players are off today and Warne will know more about Brown’s condition when his squad report for training tomorrow morning.
Brown tweeted after the match at Craven Cottaage that he was “gutted”, adding: “I hope the injury isn’t too serious.”
The teenager was playing just behind lone striker Danny Ward and the pair stretched the Cottagers’ defence several times as Joe Newell fired the Millers into an 18th-minute lead before goals from Stefan Johansen and Floyd Ayite left the Championship’s bottom club 12 points adrift of safety.
“That little pocket is perfect for him. But because we don’t have as much possession, we have to make it count when we do have it,” Warne said.
“We have on average 30 to 40 per cent possession, I’m well aware of that. When we have the ball, it has to be into Izzy or into Wardy. The lads are that keen to do it that they rush. I’ve told the lads that sometimes they need to take that extra trouch and be calmer.
“Izzy and Wardy from the ‘get-go’ caused Fulham problems. I thought those two looked a handful. It was a big disappointment when Izzy came off. It might have been a different game had he stayed on. Who knows?
Ward was substituted in the second half after hurting his wrist in a heavy fall.
“He had full range of power and movement, but if he got hit on it, it hurt,” Warne said. “He sort of lost his mojo. He kept jumping and landing and he just didn’t look right. I thought ‘I’ve got Dexter (Blackstock) sat behind me on the bench, I might as well bring him on’.
The interim boss, who chose to save captain Lee Frecklington for the derby by starting him on the bench against Fulham, praised the efforts of his team.
“As fitness coach, the fact that the players are running to the end and giving me everything and they’re cream-crackered ... I can’t ask for more from them as men,” he said.
“They gave me what they’d got. I can’t get any more out of them - like a juiced orange!”
Warne said his “manager’s head” wanted to start Frecklington but that he erred on the side of caution as the midfield man has only just returned from a five-match absence with an ankle problem and put in a prodigious stint in last Saturday’s 1-0 win over QPR.