Rotherham United: Lee's one Freck of a player for Millers
Lee the lion. Frecks the fighter.
More than any other Rotherham United player, skipper Lee Frecklington embodies the battling qualities for which the Millers have become renowned.
His commitment won him the armband and could be crucial to the club’s survival hopes as their Championship campaign enters its closing stages.
On the eve of the derby showdown with Sheffield Wednesday, Star statistics prove what every Rotherham fan has known for more than three seasons - that the Millers are a better side when their livewire midfielder and captain plays.
With Frecklington in the team this season, Rotherham have won 33 per cent of their league games. Without him, that figure drops to 16pc.
They score an average of 1.4 goals when he’s present, slipping to 0.95 if he’s out injured.
If the stats for the 15 second-tier matches in which he’s featured are applied across the season so far, the third-bottom Millers record would read: P34 W11 D5 L18 F48 A51 Pts 38. Good enough for 19th spot, three places above the drop zone.
And here’s a a little warnng for the Owls. Lee likes Hillsborough.
“I love playing there. The atmosphere is brilliant,” the 30-year-old said. “It’s a local derby. They’re always the best games to play in, from my point of view. I’m really looking forward to it.”
His season has been ravaged by calf, hamstring and groin injuries, but his return last weekend coincided with a 2-1 win over Brentford and Rotherham’s best display under new boss Neil Warnock.
It reignited hopes that the club can bridge the three-point gap between them and MK Dons and seal their second-tier slot in their final 12 matches.
“We’ve got a great chance if we play like that,” he said after the Bees clash. “Not many teams will want to face us playing like that. It might not be the prettiest football at times, but it’s effective, it’s full of commitment, full of heart, and sometimes that’s difficult to play against.”
Warnock, a former Sheffield United manager, has a long history of antipathy with Wednesday, and Frecklington believes the presence of the 67-year-old on the touchline tomorrow will take some of the pressure off the visiting players.
“The gaffer’s said that he’ll probably get more stick than we will,” he said.
“He’s very ‘old school’, he’s about passion. Sometimes that’s what you need to win games. Sometimes hard work beats ability.
“We’re only one win away now from reaching MK Dons and we go into the derby full of confidence.”
Warnock said: “I am really looking forward to it because I know it will be a special atmosphere. Credit to them, they have a good manager and he has put together the best team that they have had for many years.”
“All we can do is ask our lads to give the best they have got and fight for everything.”