Rotherham United: Millers newcomer filling a hole

Rotherham's Pablo Mills, right, then at Crawley, challenges Lewis Grabban when playing against the Millers in 2012
Rotherham's Pablo Mills, right, then at Crawley, challenges Lewis Grabban when playing against the Millers in 2012
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Whether Pablo Mills contacted Rotherham United asking to train or whether he was invited back, it is irrelevant now in view of the club’s current situation.

The important thing is that another body was added to boost a depleted squad and it was important too that it was someone capable of doing a job in defence.

Millers fans who went to Notts County on Saturday might wonder what would have happened when injured central defender Kari Arnason went off late on without Mills to put on.

The obvious replacement, right back Mark Bradley, was already off injured earlier. There was no one else in the squad with any experience of playing in centre defence. At Villa Park, the only sub defender as an untried teenager.

Perhaps it was for just such a situation that Millers manager Steve Evans had Mills - who had left Macclesfield - training and playing in the reserves.

Evans, when asked about Mills’ surprise appearance in the reserves’ opening fixture a couple of weeks ago, said he had no intention of signing Mills, who he had managed at Crawley.

He reiterated that sentiment the following week and said the player was keeping fit as he sought a club. So, what changed?

The Millers boss said that the 28-year-old had impressed him and his staff during his time at the club.

“I know him from managing him at Crawley, I know what he can do and he knows what I’m about,” said Evans.

“He’s a bit of work to do on his fitness but he’s now in better shape than he was and Paul Warne (fitness coach) is on a mission to get him right.”

Perhaps Evans looked ahead and saw the potential for a problem that, in fact, has arisen ahead of the Sheffield United match on Saturday.

Kari Arnason was always going to miss that game on international duty. It left Claude Davis and Craig Morgan for centre defence and, really, no one else. Should anything happen to them either through an unexpected ban or injury or illness (and Davis has been missing in a couple of recent games), Mark Bradley could always slot in, as he has done adequately in the past although he’s not regarded as a natural central defender.

But what if Bradley happened to be absent for any reason? And, what’s more, with no chance of signing anyone this week because the loan window doesn’t re-open until next week, Evans could have been seriously undermanned at the back.

So, the Mills option grew more attractive once he began to shape up. It is six years since he first joined the Millers as a midfielder but he played quite a bit at the back.

Given the option, Evans would understandably plump for Davis alongside Morgan. But just having Mills around is a valuable option.

He is on contract to January and now gets the chance to extend his stay.