Rotherham United are looking to exploit the home frailty of their latest opponents as they bid to move out of the Championship drop zone.
The Millers travel to Huddersfield Town tonight knowing that the Terriers have lost their last four matches at the John Smith’s Stadium.
“It’s got to be good for us,” said Rotherham boss Neil Redfearn. “There’s a pressure that goes with that record.
“If we can keep it tight or, even better, get our noses in front, they’re under pressure straightaway and the crowd can turn. It is something we’ve got to play on.”
His side are next to bottom in the table but could climb into a survival spot with a victory over Yorkshire derby rivals who will start proceedings this evening in 20th place.
Striker Leon Best returns after a three-match ban, but Redfearn won’t gamble on the fitness of forward Danny Ward and defender Stephen Kelly unless he’s certain they’re completely over knee and calf injuries respectively.
“The majority of the lads who have had bumps or knocks are not far off being fit. Whether that’s for Huddersfield or for Saturday, we’ll have to wait and see,” he said.
“What I don’t want is to get them back for one game, maybe 60 minutes, and then lose them for four or five weeks. It’s important that when they’re back, they’re back. Stephen and Danny are important to us. If we can get them fit and get them out there playing for us, it will be a big plus.”
Ward joined the Millers from Huddersfield in last January, but the attacker, who celebrated his 24th birthday last week, has suffered a frustrating run of injuries which have curtailed his playing time.
“Danny is a powerful boy. He’s 6ft tall, you forget that,” Redfearn said. “He gives you physical presence when he’s up there. He’s athletic. Because he’s young, he gets about. He’s been on the scene for a while, so everybody looks past his age, but he’s still a young guy.
“He’s got a lot of scope and a lot of playing in front of him. We need to keep him fit and available. He can play on the left, he can play down the middle, he can play behind one. He gives you options so it’s important we get him out there.”
Best is almost certain to start in West Yorkshire, with Redfearn believing he adds an extra dimension to the Rotherham line-up.
He was instrumental in the Millers’ first win under their new boss, at Leeds United last month, before being red-carded in the second half.
“Leon gives us experience up front,” Redfearn said. “He leads the line and he’s somebody perhaps the club hasn’t had in recent times.
“We’ve had young strikers, we’ve had an experienced striker in Derbs (Matt Derbyshire) who plays off the shoulder, but we’ve not really had a focal one we can go into who is experienced. That’s what Leon is for us. He’s going to be important for us.”
Meanwhile, right winger Emmanuel Ledesma has been told he can leave the club, and there seems little chance attacking midfielder Tony Andreu will force his way back into favour before his loan spell from Norwich City ends in January.
Neither player was brought to the club by Redfearn who said: “We’ve had to start finding a way of playing and it doesn’t fit everybody.
“From one to 11, everyone has got to be up for the fight. Everybody has got to scrap and chase and battle and fight. We can’t have anyone - and I’m not just talking about Manu here - who doesn’t fit that criteria. To be fair, he’s shown a good attitude. He does the right thing in training. Manu is one of those who have been circulated. He knows the situation.
“Tony has been unlucky. He’s really grafted and put a shift in whenever he’s played but we’ve gone a different way, picked different personnel and he’s found himself out of it. He’s shown a great attititude in training. He isn’t totally out of the picture.”