Rotherham United: In-form Millers striker Matt Derbyshire trains sights on boyhood club

Matt Derbyshire
Matt Derbyshire
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He readily admits he’s a Blackburn Rovers supporter, but Rotherham United striker Matt Derbyshire is still desperate to score against his boyhood club tonight.

The Millers head into this evening’s clash at Ewood Park buoyed by two wins and a draw in their last three games which have seen them climb to 18th in the Championship.

Derbyshire, who received a standing ovation after bagging his second goal in as many home matches in Saturday’s 2-0 triumph over Ipswich Town, said: “I’m a Blackburn fan. I’ve never hidden that from anybody.

“I love the club but, listen, I’m a Rotherham player and, given the chance to get a bagful of goals, I’d love to score against them.”

The 28-year-old forward made his professional breakthrough at his home-town club when they were in the Premier League.

Rotherham are in a run of five matches against teams eyeing automatic promotion or a play-off place and Derbyshire, who has struck up a prolific understanding with Conor Sammon up front, believes he and his teammates can use that to inspire them.

“February is a tough month,” he conceded, “But everyone performs much better in the bigger games, don’t they? You work that little bit extra hard. The tougher the game, the more you do. I think that suits us.

“Going into the Blackburn game, there’s a very positive vibe about the place. Lads like Conor and myself are scoring, which helps us.

“The whole vibe about the place and dressing room is fantastic. Going into the Blackburn game, that’s got to be good. I can’t wait for it.”

Derbyshire went 14 second-tier games without a goal but he and new boy Sammon have now bagged four times between them in victories over Bolton Wanderers and Mick McCarthy’s Tractor Boys.

Millers manager Steve Evans enthused: We’ve found some players who can score a goal. We’ve always known Derbyshire can score a goal. We’ve just been waiting for it to happen. We’ve had to be patient, and now long may it continue.

“The thing that I love about these two guys is they work so hard. I know one of the Ipswich Town centre-backs personally. I had a little chat with him on Sunday and he said ‘I don’t think we’ve been run into so many channels or had players run in behind as much as your two guys did all season’.

“When they both score on top of that, it’s a real asset for us.

“I never gave up on Derbyshire. The one thing that was always in my mind was the one player who was getting into positions to miss chances. You just thought that one of these days lady luck had to turn for him.”

Derbyshire is set to start tonight, along with left midfielder Ben Pringle who Evans believes is approaching his best form after rejecting a move to Millwall.

“Ben had to settle himself down,” Evans said. “These young men have agents in their ears and if it’s not Millwall it’s Real Madrid, Everybody wants to sign him. You know and I know that might not always be reality, but agents are agents. They only ever make money when they move a player. They don’t make money when a player stays at a club. So it’s obvious what’s been going on.”

Evans, who’d be happy for Pringle to sign a new deal when his contract expires in the summer, added: “He’s starting to influence games more and we’re starting to get the ball to him more. He’s the best crosser in the Championship. He just went through a little phase where it seemed he was a yard down on his game. I’ve always loved him, and after Blackburn he can buy me a coffee.”

Derbyshire, meanwhile, remains a popular figure at Rovers, but one person who has been avoiding him is ex-teammate David Dunn who is still with the club.

“Now and again we chat,” Derbyshire grinned.

“He’s blanking my calls at the moment because I need some tickets off him!”