Rotherham United: No guarantees against Fulham for Millers derby hero Jonson Clarke-Harris

Jonson Clarke-Harris
Jonson Clarke-Harris
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His manager says he has the potential to play in the Premier League, he was signed for a record fee and his wonderful first goal for the club has just swung a Yorkshire derby the way of Rotherham United.

Yet Jonson Clarke-Harris is still not a certain starter when the Millers face mighty Fulham at New York Stadium tonight.

“We have to be patient with him,” says Rotherham boss Steve Evans.

“I think it will probably be 18 months before we see Jonson Clarke-Harris at his true level.

“I said the same when we signed Kieran Agard. I told the chairman it would be a year before we’d really see him, and it was. Then the kid went on to create some outstanding scoring records.

Evans describes 20-year-old striker Clarke-Harris as a “development project”, but is certain the 20-year-old who was signed on transfer deadline day from Oldham Athletic has what it takes to one day mix it in elite company.

“When it comes to raw potential, and you measure age and physique and everything else, Jonson has one hell of a chance,” Evans said.

“That’s why there were some big, big clubs in the Championship and one club in the Premiership in particular who were all at the table to secure his services.

“But it’s fair to say they saw him as a development project at under-21 level. We obviously see him as a development project in the first team. He’s got the potential to play in the top flight.

Clarke-Harris smashed home the winning goal from nearly 25 yards infront of sell-out home two minutes after coming on as a substitute against Leeds United for his home debut.

And he can count among his admirers the Millers’ Icelandic centre-half, Kari Arnason, who kept Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben goalless in his country’s Euro 2016 Group A qualifying win over Holland.

Evans said: “I don’t know if Robben and van Persie are still walking round our training ground because Kari brought them back with him in his pocket last week, but Kari has often said to me ‘Gaffer, how good can this kid be?’. And he is a kid. He’s 20.”

Fulham, a Premier League club last season, arrive in Rotherham tonight rejuvenated under the caretaker reign of former player Kit Symons after a disastrous start to their Championship campaign with notorious taskmaster Felix Magath in charge.

“They’ve been in a European final, they’ve graced the Premier League for a number of seasons,” Evans said,

“They’ve got enormous resources under a very wealthy owner. The boy, (Ross) McCormack, is a classy player, a top, top player. If they really did pay more than £11 million for him it shows you the type of willingness at owner level to see them immediately return to the top flight.

“They’re in a great run of form under Kit (Symons). After Felix Magath, he’s gone in there with his own passion and galvanised things. Put Danny Murphy in there beside Kit Symons. Would that work? I would think so.

“This is another big night at New York Stadium. They come with top-class players. They have players who were on the England team coach not so long ago. They’re graced with talent and they’re in a confident mood.

“They’re relaxed, they’re winning and Kit Symons isn’t running them up and down the training ground for two and half hours four afternoons a week.”

Evans will have side side champing at the bit for another huge test after the Leeds showdown.

“Three points tomorrow night certainly takes us into the top half of the table and, dare I say it, it takes us near the top 10. I’ll fall off my stool,” he said.

“If that was achieved, that would represent after 13 games a tremendous start.”