Rotherham United: Game-time for Mattock as Warne ponders play-off line-up
Joe Mattock could be handed a chance to stake his claim to be in Rotherham United's starting 11 for the League One play-offs.
The defender, who is fit again after a hamstring injury, faces a battle with Ben Purrington for the left-back spot when the Millers embark on the end-of-season promotion showdown.
Mattock had been a regular starter before limping off against Peterbrough United at the end of March.
But Purrington has since put in a series of solid displays for manager Paul Warne’s fourth-placed side, who are at Plymouth Argyle tomorrow, giving the boss a selection dilemma.
“I would like Mattock to play in a first-team game before the play-offs,” Warne said. “At the moment, Ben has the shirt and his performances have been good.
“But if Joe is selected to play in the play-off semi-final or at Wembley (in the final), I don’t want him to come in cold and go straight into it.
“Contrary to that, Ben was not even on the bench for weeks and months and then he just came in from nowhere straight on to the pitch. In an ideal world, I’ll give Mattock some time.”
Purrington had endured a season on the sidelines until he was called up five matches ago. Tomorrow’s clash pits Rotherham against his former club, with the Millers paying Argyle around £300,000 for his services in January 2017.
Warne’s men have already sealed their top-six berth and, with two games of the regular campaign left, are virtally certain to finish in the fourth position they have held for several months. Argyle, in seventh, have play-off apirations of their own and are in desperate need of points to force their way into the frame.
Meanwhile, Warne has revealed how he managed to keep his wallet intact despite offering to buy all his players a drink at last Saturday’s end-of-season awards evening after they had mathemetically secured their play-off slot by beating Bristol Rovers 2-0 at AESSEAL New York Stadium.
“I had a good night,” he said. “I got a box of beers sent to the changing room. I didn’t pay for them. Until they read this, the lads don’t know I didn’t pay for them. Steve Coakley (commercial director) kindly sent them down after the game. They must be on his expenses!
“The thought was there. It doesn’t really matter who’s bought them. The end result is the same: free beer for the players. They didn’t have to pay for it. The gaffer got it them!
“Mrs Warne? No, I didn’t buy her one. I bought nobody a drink, which made it the best do I’ve ever been to. In fairness to me, they haven’t achieved anything, have they? If they win promotion, I’ll buy them a drink. In fact, if they get through to the play-off final, I’ll buy them a drink.
Warne doesn’t like to part with his pounds, but revealed that he did put in hand in his pocket on the club’s pre-season tour last July.
“I’ve bought the players coffees or ice creams in Austria,” he said. “They had a choice. That’s because it was Euros and it feels like false money.”