Here’s a Christmas quiz question for you ...
Who have lost more matches this season, Rotherham United or today’s visitors to AESSEAL New York Stadium, bottom club Bolton Wanderers?
The Trotters, despite their well-documented financial woes, have suffered 10 defeats compared to the 22nd-placed Millers’ 14.
And that’s one of the reasons why Rotherham boss Neil Redfearn believes Neil Lennon’s men will pose a bigger threat this afternoon than many people anticipate.
“They’ve been unlucky in a lot of games,” said Redfearn, who watched them lose narrowly against Hull City on December 12. “They’ve got good players. If they can get the administration side sorted out, they’re a side capable of climbing out of the bottom three.
“The off-field situation must be hard for the squad. How ever much you try to block it out, it affects things. Neil’s players haven’t been getting paid. To their credit, they look like they care, they’re having a go. We’ve got to cross swords with them and meet them head on.”
The Millers are only a point away from safety after winning three of their last six matches, culminating in their best performance of the season last Saturday when they saw off promotion-chasing Hull 2-0.
That display has raised expectations, but Redfearn warned that this afternoon’s challenge is much different to last week’s against the Tigers.
“Sometimes what happens with sides at the top is that they come and relax because they’re playing well,” he said. “Perhaps we played on that a little bit against Hull. We were really upbeat and uptempo. Bolton will come and be exactly the same as we were against Hull - they’ll be upbeat and after us.
“We’ve got to do to them what they’re going to come and try to do to us. It’ll be a full-blooded clash. There’s a lot at stake. But we’ve got to concentrate on us.
“I don’t like dwelling too much on the opposition. I like knowing about the opposition and what they’re capable of but I want it to be about us. If we’re going to progress and get better - which we are doing, if you look at the performances and results - we’ve got to focus on us.”
Defender Stephen Kelly will miss out as he nurses a calf strain and loan midfielder Luke Hyam has been recalled by Ipswich, but striker Leon Best is in the frame after having an injection to combat his groin problem.
“Stephen’s calf is not as bad as we thought, but it’s a niggling injury,” Redfearn said. “When he’s back, we want him back. We don’t want him in and out of the team. In every game he’s played we’ve kept a clean sheet. It’s not all down to him, but it’s apparent he makes a difference.
“Leon had the injection from the specialist. We’ve got to the bottom of what it is. It’s something he can play through. He’s in contention, but he’s got to fight his way into the side. The boys played well against Hull.”
The Millers squad trained yesterday, while the Trotters chose to give their players Christmas Day off before travelling to Rotherham this morning.
Two players who will start today are young duo centre-half Farrend Rawson and right midfielder Grant Ward, and Redfearn is hoping to extend their loan spells from Derby County and Spurs respectively.
“We’re on with that. They’re two players I want to keep,” he confirmed.
“Young Faz is going to go on and have a great career. He’s got all the makings and all the bits.
“Grant has grown and grown and grown with each game. He’s getting better and better. He’s a blank canvas to go and work with. Even when he has a dip, he bounces back. He’s resilient, he’s producing, he’s got ability. I’ll keep pushing them, I’ll keep reminding them and I’ll keep them on track.”
Lennon has kept his job at the Macron Stadium after a club probe into newspaper allegations about his private life.
Redfearn played against him in the Premier League when he was at Barnsley and Bradford City and the Northern Ireland international was with Leicester City.
“He was a talented footballer, a great player, and his sides, where ever he has managed, resemble him as a player,” the Millers manager said.
“He likes them to get it down, he likes them to pass it, he likes them to play. They compete, like he did as a player. I’m expecting a tough game. His record is proven, and he’ll be bringing a Bolton side who will be up for it, so they’ll be a test for us.”