Joe Newell is poised for a fresh Rotherham United chance after his match-changing performance in the free-scoring Millers’ latest victory.
The midfield man came on as a 62nd-minute substitute with the score locked at 1-1 in last Saturday’s League One clash with Oldham Athletic and inspired the home side to a 5-1 win.
With winger Jon Taylor a big doubt with a knee injury, Newell, who lost his place earlier this season, is a likely starter at Blackburn Rovers tomorrow when Paul Warne’s men go in search of their fifth win in six games.
“If Taylor doesn’t make it, Newell has a great chance of playing,” boss Warne said. “I thought Newell was the best player on the pitch on Saturday.
“Through the week, you can all see that Newell is the best trainer. He was good at Donny in the ‘ressies’ last week, although so he should be because he was up against 18-year-old kids.
“I pulled him into my office on Saturday before the game and said: ‘Look, out of all the lads on the bench you have got the biggest grievance about not being in the team. You’re right to think that way because you should be in the team, but, unfortunately for you, the lads in front of you have done well.’
“When he is on song, he is one of the best midfielders in the league, football-wise. He’s the best player with the ball at his feet at the club.”
Rotherham are the top scorers in the Football League with 20 goals, and Warne looks ready to play the division’s leading marksman, Kieffer Moore, against Rovers, despite the striker’s tight groin.
The Millers manager says the eight-goal hitman may need resting at some stage but can carry on for now without making the problem worse.
“He’s stiff in his groin, big time,” Warne said. “The way we want him to play, and the way he has played, he’s not just a lad who stands up the middle. He puts his body about. There’s a lot of running and chasing. He’s a big lad and there’s a lot of physical force going through his groin. It’s taking it’s toll on him.
“Sooner or later, we’re going to have to pick a game where we let him completely shut down and get himself back. He’s not causing himself any harm; it’s just tightness. Nothing is going to ‘go’, hopefully.
“He’s taking some punishment but he’s a strong lad and he wants to play every week. While he does, and there is no risk, we’ll try to throw him out there.
“I can say it publicly because I’ve said it to his face, I don’t think he played great on Saturday, although he set up one goal and scored two! I’m not knocking him, but he just looks a little bit rusty because he can’t have as much time on the training pitch between games.”
Tomorrow’s clash between eighth-placed Rotherham and the team one place below them pits the Millers against Richie Smallwood, the midfieder who departed AESSEAL New York Stadium for Ewood Park in the summer.
“There were no hard feelings when he left the club. He still lives local,” Warne said. “I always look at the lads who’ve left to see how they’re doing and he’s doing really well.
“He’s playing every week and playing for a good club. The majority of my midfielders here have played with him and know of him. I won’t have to talk about him too much in the team talk.”