Five months, 10 games and 15 new signings ...
Much has gone by since Kirk Broadfoot was last able to put up his hand for a Rotherham United first-team shirt.
But the centre-half is finally eligible for selection again after completing a suspension of record length, and has been working so hard that the Millers believe he’s fit enough to go straight into the side to face Birmingham City tomorrow if required.
“It’s been a long time for him,” said assistant manager Paul Raynor.
“The most important thing now is that he’s fit and available to us. He’s fit enough to start, that’s for sure. He’s worked incredibly hard. He’s been doing double and triple sessions with (fitness coach) Paul Warne.
“If we decide that it’s time for a change and that Kirk could come in, he’s certainly fit enough to do so.”
The Scottish international last played when the Millers secured their Championship survival last term against Reading at the end of April and has since served a 10-match ban, imposed before the start of this season, for a verbal altercation with Wigan’s James McClean back in March.
If he does return to the team, he will find it much changed after a busy summer of recruitment by Rotherham boss Steve Evans, but Raynor says all the 31-year-old cares about is playing again.
“It’s been tough for him, because he’s a fighter and a scrapper. He wants to be out there,” Raynor said. ”Obviously, he’s been frustrated to miss so many games. He wants to to be part of it.
“I’ve got to give him great credit - he’s been a real true professional off the pitch. He’s been coming to all the games. Even away games, he’s been asking if he can travel.
“That’s great. It just shows you the togetherness we’ve got in the squad. We’re delighted to have him available. He was probably one of our best players towards the end of last season and played a massive part in helping us stay up.”
The suspension handed down by the FA to Broadfoot - who it is thought directed a Sectarian insult at McClean during his outburst - was the longest ever handed down for verbal abuse.
I can’t really comment on the ban,” Raynor added. “It’s done now. He’s served his suspension.”
Evans missed training yesterday, staying at home to recover from a bug which he didn’t want to see passed on to his players,
The Millers head to St Andrew’s Stadium buoyed by their first league win of the season, 2-1 at home to Cardiff City last week.
“It was a relief more than anything,” Raynor admitted. “We felt as if we’d been in every game before then.
“You can see the smiles on people’s faces in training and this week has been fantastic. The manner of the performance was important too. We’d have taken a scrappy win, we’d have taken anything, any manner of win, but the performance against Cardiff was good.”
For the first team this season, Rotherham have a full squad from which to choose, with skipper Lee Frecklington back in full training after a calf injury picked up in the draw at Charlton Athletic a fortnight ago.
“It might be an opportunity to freshen things up. There are people knocking on the door,” Raynor said. “Manu Ledesma came on against Cardiff and looked more like the player he was last season. Chris Maguire came on and gave us a real spark and created the winning goal.
“It will be an interesting couple of days selecting the best 11.”