Rotherham United: Towell back as Warne says there's no crisis for promotion-chasing Millers
Rotherham United will have midfield man Richie Towell available again as they embark on a six-match run-in which will decide their play-off fate.
The League One Millers, at home to Fleetwood Town on Saturday, need to reverse a run of four defeats in six matches to consolidate their position in the top six.
Towell, who played a key role as the club went 14 matches unbeaten before their recent wobble, is back in contention after missing the 3-1 Easter Monday defeat at Charlton Athletic with a hamstring niggle.
“Richie had pain in his back because of his hamstring,” boss Paul Warne said. “He should be fine for this weekend. I wasn’t going to take a risk on him at Charlton.”
The manager, who held an hour-long dressing-room inquest after the Addicks loss, dismissed any notion of a crisis after taking four points from a possible 18.
With half a dozen fixtures remaining, his squad are in fourth place, five points clear of the clubs just below them in the table, Peterborough United, Charlton and Portsmouth, although the Addicks have a game in hand.
“I don’t regard it as a crisis because I know I have got a really good group,” Warne said. “I am looking forward to seeing how they respond. We need a response now.
“I’d be lying if I said I’m dancing a merry jig. When we went on an amazing run and won seven on the spin, I never got overly-exuberant thinking we’d got everything sussed. Football isn’t like that.
“Regrettably, we’ve got four points out of 18. It isn’t the form we want to carry into the play-offs, if we’re lucky enough to get in them. You don’t want to stumble into the play-offs. You want to go into them in good form.”
Results elsewhere on Monday saw the chasing pack narrow the gap on Rotherham.
“We’re still in a good position,” Warne said, “But when we lose we can’t come in and expect to see all the other teams (around us) have lost,” he said.
“This (Charlton loss) will give the lads a rocket - not that they needed it - for Saturday. It’s not a ‘must win’ game, but we’ve got to be looking at winning games and getting a play-off position at the end of the season.”
The boss criticised his team’s defending at the Valley after a poor Josh Emmanuel clearing header allowed Charlton to open the scoring and a lack of marking at a free-kick led to the home side’s second goal.
Defensive errors blighted the Millers early in the season but had been largely eradicated during the long unbeaten run from December 9 to March 10
“The last time we had an issue was in December,” Warne said. “We spoke about it then and it hadn’t really reared its ugly head since. Their lad gets a free header in the box for the second. I don’t see any of our lads getting free headers at the other end.”
Left-back Joe Mattock will miss the Fleetwood clash because of a hamstring injury, which could mean a second successive start for Ben Purrington, called up at Charlton for his first action since late September.
The 21-year-old was substituted after the Addicks went 3-0 in front through Joe Aribo who ran from the halfway line to shoot past Marek Rodak.
“Ben came in and I thought he performed really well for 65 minutes until he fatigued,” Warne said. “For the third goal, he couldn’t get back in because he was tightening up. That’s why I took him off.”