Rotherham United boss Steve Evans knows Richie Smallwood will be desperate to beat former club Middlesbrough today ... but that still doesn’t guarantee the midfielder a start.
Smallwood is a product of the famed Boro academy and he spent several seasons with the North-east club before joining on a permanent deal in August.
“He’s a young man who loves that football club; there is no other way to describe it,” Evans said.
“I’m sure if he’s selected he’ll want to beat them more than he’ll want to win any other game.”
Smallwood has been on the bench in recent games after tweaking his hamstring, and Evans, speaking at Thursday’s press conference, was coy about the role the 23-year-old will play today.
“He was in the team and then went out injured,” the Millers manager said.
“He didn’t get back in because we’ve gone with the two in there of Greeny (Paul Green) and Frecks (Lee Frecklington). But this ain’t Saturday yet.
“When you’re in football you do want to beat your previous club. You want to beat anyone because it’s a case of pride. Richie will no doubt be trying to telling me who they’re going to play and how they’re going to play.”
The Millers face three games in a week and could stretch their unbeaten run in the Championship to eight matches, ahead of the international break, if they avoid defeat between now and next Saturday.
“I wouldn’t want to draw the next three games,” Evans said. “I want more than three points out of them.”
After Boro, his side are at Reading on Tuesday and then head to Hillsborough to face Sheffield Wednesday in a South Yorkshire derby.
Today is expected to see a full house again at New York Stadium, and Evans added: “The sell-outs are fantastic. They certainly help when the bigger clubs come.”