Caring boss Kenny Jackett has offered Jonson Clarke-Harris a helping hand as the Rotherham United striker battles back from major surgery.
The young centre-forward is out until the New Year after a serious knee injury suffered in pre-season required an operation.
New manager Jackett, just three games into the job, has already taken time out to give guidance to the 22-year-old who lasted just 25 minutes of the Millers’ first summer friendly, against non-league Parkgate FC in early July, before damaging his anterior cruciate ligaments.
“Since I have been in, I have talked to him twice about him focusing on short-term goals to get to his long-term goal, which is getting back,” Jacket revealed.
“Sometimes, if you just look straight at a long-term goal, it can be quite difficult and you can take your eye off the ball.”
Clarke-Harris, the club’s record buy when he was signed by then-boss Steve Evans from Oldham Atheltic in 2014, is back running and Jackett wants him to concentrate on keeping his weight in check.
“He is a big lad and he must focus on his own personal fitness and body fat,” the manager said. “Making sure he sees it as an opportunity to come back fitter is where he has to be.
“He is building the area up around his injury. He is hopefully building it up to be stronger. That can be the case after surgery. But then it is important that your overall body doesn’t get too top-heavy.
“You do see players work sometimes in the wrong way and come back in a slightly different shape to when they went away, and they are not as effective footballers.”
There is no doubting the raw talent and power of Clarke-Harris, although the attacker has frustrated as much as he has thrilled in his time at New York Stadium.
He scored five goals in 37 appearances last season and managed three in 16 in his first year in South Yorkshire.
Jackett added: “Being lean and strong and maximising what is a really good physique and being effective when he comes back is key.
“He is young enough to achieve all those goals. What I have done with all of the players is set long-term goals. But you get to a long-term goal by setting short-term goals.”
Rotherham return to Championship competition on Saturday at Derby County after the international break.
Loan teenagers Dael Fry and Izzy Brown have played for England Under-20s in the Continental Cup in South Korea during the two-week rest from league action.
The Three Lions made a winning start to the tournament by beating Nigeria 8-1, with Fry and Brown starting.
Fry was an unused substitute as England were beaten 2-1 by the host nation.He then appeared in the 4-1 victory over Iran and substitute Brown scored as England finished in second spot.
Rotherham Reserves are at home to York City this afternoon, kick-off 1pm at Roundwood.