Defending their right

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IT CAN’T really be called a rivalry but the denizens of the New York Stadium will hardly be able to avoid comparing the merits of rival central defenders tomorrow.

Rotherham United face Paul Sturrock’s Southend United but the game-within-the-game will be the return of Ryan Cresswell and his comparison with Ian Sharps.

It is intruiging that each has replaced the other in Millers colours in the past couple of years.

In 2010, after the Wembley Play-off Final defeat, Ian Sharps was allowed to leave at the end of his contract. The then manager Ronnie Moore had eyes on Ryan Cresswell and signed him that summer.

Two years on and, last summer, the current boss Steve Evans brought back Sharps whilst allowing Cresswell, a Rotherham fan, to move on.

Towards the end of last season, Evans had said he intended building his defence around Cresswell.

“Yes, I did say that but I had the chance to get Ian Sharps and the possibility of Craig Morgan too so letting Ryan go was a professional decision, nothing else,” said Evans.

“Ryan Cresswell is a great leader and defender and a real threat in the opposition penalty area - as his goal tally already indicates - and I think highly of him as a player and a person.

“But this is the evolution of football; players get replaced. I love Kari Arnason more than my wife but if we get someone who is better than him, then in he goes. That’s how it works.”

Cresswell, assured of a good reception, says he was disappointed at being allowed to leave.

“The manager did say he wanted to build a team around me but then he let me go so that was a bit strange but I took it as a football decision and not personal,” said Cresswell who has already scored four times this season including in this week’s 2-0 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy win over Dagenham which Evans watched.

Selection issues confronting Evans are the midfield vacancy left by Kari Arnason’s absence on international duty and the formation up front where Lionel Ainsworth ended up playing centrally at York last week.

n The club hope there will be no repeat of the sort of queues which have formed at recent home games due to problems with the automated turnstiles.

Season ticket holders have a swipe-card system but it has not operated as efficiently as it should and, at the Torquay home game, entrances had to be operated manually. At the following home game against Rochdale, lengthy queues formed then as well.

The club, concerned over some fans not being in before kick off, have carried out tests and will hope things run smoothly tomorrow.