THEY’ve started something big back in Rotherham. Will there be the start of something big for Rotherham United tomorrow?
Two of the most ambitious, thrusting young managers of League Two will go head-to-head on opening day at the Don Valley Stadium as Andy Scott oversees his revamped Rotherham United against Chris Wilder’s Oxford United.
Scott, eight newcomers in and at least two more sure to follow at some stage, knows his Millers side will be expected to live up to their billing of promotion challengers.
For Wilder, the expectation after a season of consolidation back up in the Football League is to improve on last season’s 12th place. At one stage they were just sniffing the play-offs.
Both managers have checked out the other one’s team during pre-season, former Millers defender Wilder returning last Saturday to his home city - where he played for the Blades - to run the rule over Scott’s men in their final game.
“Who knows how closely those teams will resemble the one on Saturday but they have a big squad and have brought players in and it is a tough start,” said Scott.
Among the newcomers is experienced defender Michael Duberry. The one-time Leeds, Stoke and Reading man - now 35 - was with St.Johnstone last season and signed a two year deal at Oxford.
“He’s a leader, a talker, a safe player, just the sort we need,” said Wilder.
Another shrewd signing is midfielder Peter Leven from MK Dons. He previously had a spell with Chesterfield.
Much more recently with the Spireites was winger Deane Smalley who was on loan with them last season. He has joined Oxford from Oldham. Midfielder Liam Davis has joined from Northampton where he provided a painful memory for the Millers on Good Friday last season because his was the stoppage time equaliser for a 2-2 draw after Rotherham had been two up.
One player not figuring will be former Rotherham midfielder Paul McLaren who has only just started training after a calf injury.
How many of Rotherham’s eight newcomers figure in the starting line-up remains to be seen.
Prime candidates should include goalkeeper Conrad Logan, defender Troy Brown, midfielders Danny Schofield and Ben Pringle and striker Lewis Grabban.
Schofield has recovered from an infected toe whilst Luke Foster - who played over 100 times for Oxford - resumed training yesterday after a spot of hamstring trouble. Foster has figured in midfield in pre-season.
One player who won’t be figuring is goalkeeper Jamie Annerson.
He has had a knee injury which became infected and he has had an operation and looks set to be out of action for a month.
Adam Le Fondre is down to start.