Paul Warne will implore his players to seize the moment when he delivers his final call to arms seconds before Wednesday’s winner-takes-all League One play-off showdown.
His Rotherham United side take on Scunthorpe United at a packed AESSEAL New York Stadium, with the victors on the night earning a place against Shrewsbury Town at Wembley where a place in the Championship will be at stake.
Warne, whose team drew last Saturday’s 2-2 semi-final first leg at Glanford Park, will tell his players to embrace the occasion because it might never come round again.
He said: “My message to the lads before they go out will be: ‘Look, there is an immense amount of pressure on this game.There’s no point wrapping it up any other way.
“But if you are a true competitor, a true footballer, a true great, you’ll be able to play with this pressure. If you can’t, you’’ll be taken off after 15 minutes. Simple as that.
“There’s no point lying to them. They need to know the importance of it. As a player, you can be in the play-offs one year and think: ‘Oh, I’ll be them again next year.’ Then it can be 10 years before it comes round again, if it ever does.
“The lads need to know they have already achieved a lot this season, and I couldn’t be prouder of them. But if we’re going to be beaten, then be beaten by the better team. Do not get beaten because we under-perform.”
The clash is heading towards a sell-out and there were less than 500 tickets remaining this afternoon. Rotherham will have fans on all four sides of the ground as Scunthorpe have been allocated only half of the away end.
Several players sat out training today and Rotherham are assessing winger and first-leg scorer Jon Taylor who came off at Scunthorpe in the second half.
“There are a few struggling a little bit, (Joe) Mattock, Icky (Michael Ihiekwe), (Joe) Newell,” Warne said. “There are a few aches and pains. A few of them didn’t train today but we’ll see how they are tomorrow. 24 hours on, we’ll know more.
“Tayls took a bit of a dead-leg. It’s in his running muscle, which is a problem. Scunny will have aches and pains too. There was more ice being used after the game than I’ve seen in a long time.”
Warne believes he has leaders in his line-up who are capable of swinging the tie in the Millers’ favour.
“Your best players normally puff their chests out and perform and we’ve got some outstanding talent at this club on the pitch and on the bench,” he said.
“I’m hoping my big-time players step on Wednesday night and we perform to the level we can. Hopefully, that will be enough to beat a very good team.”