Rotherham United: Kenny Jackett impressed as Peter Odemwingie states claim for Millers starting role
New signing Peter Odemwingie has thrust himself into contention for a starting berth when Rotherham United resume their Championship survival fight after the international break.
The veteran attacker was the shining light in the Millers’ 3-1 defeat against Preston North End after coming on as a half-time substitute for his New York Stadium debut last Saturday.
Boss Kenny Jackett liked what he saw of his free-agent capture who has an impressive Premier League pedigree with West Brom, Cardiff City and Stoke City.
“I certainly felt Odemwingie made a difference and was a threat linking with Danny Ward,” Jackett, taking charge of only his third Rotherham match, said.
“Whenever we could get the ball to him to try and link with Ward, it was, I think, our best combination.”
Odemwingie replaced ineffective centre-forward Dexter Blackstock and will be in Jackett’s thoughts when the bottom-placed Millers return to action on November 19 at Derby County.
The Nigerian international troubled the Lilywhites in a role wide on the left with his sharpness, control and vision and his exquisite ball into the box set up Richard Wood’s headed goal in the 71st minute.
Wood agreed with his manager about the quality of the 35-year-old who has signed an initial deal with the club until January.
“He’s looked good in training and he made an immediate impact when he came on,” he said. “He’s done well at the very top and he’s still got it. He was a real danger on the ball.”
The Millers are eight points away from a safety spot and haven’t won since August 20, but Wood believes Odemwingie’s presence can help them close the gap.
“Peter could be a big player for us in the next couple of months,” he said. “He’s experienced and he can make things happen for us.”
Top scorer Ward, who has most to benefit from Odemingie’s selection, also can’t wait to for him to be in the side again.
“You can see his class and that he’s played at the highest level,” he said. “He’ll be a great addition to the team.”
With Rotherham trailing 2-0 at the break against North End, Jackett took decisive action, bringing off Blackstock for Odemwingie, replacing central midfielder Dominic Ball with Greg Halford and switching from 4-4-2 to add to the numbers in midfield.
It paid off as Wood’s goal put the Millers back in the game, but the visitors produced a late killer third.
“We needed to change things, definitely,” said Jackett. “We needed to get tighter to them in wide areas, get an extra man in midfield where we could link a little bit because we were very wooden in the first half.
“I thought (Will) Vaulks could maybe get a shot in from deep or (Joe) Newell find us a pass.
“I tried to affect the game, tried to give us an extra pass. We were very one-dimensional in the first period. I was looking for Greg to come in and find a pass and also be a presence in front of the back four.”