HE may not be one of the higher-profile signings littering Rotherham United’s squad roster but already Mark Bradley, one of last season’s ‘survivors’ has shown the value of his versatility.
It doesn’t look, at first glance, that Bradley will be an automatic first choice when Steve Evans gets down to naming his strongest 11 but players like the 24-year-old so often prove invaluable when the unexpected happens.
Three friendlies in at the New York Stadium and Bradley has already appeared in three different roles ... centre defence, midfield and right-back.
Tonight, against Sheffield United, Bradley will start at right-back assuming that Nicky Hunt isn’t risked even if he has recovered from the hamstring tweak that saw him go off early on in Rotherham’s 1-0 defeat by Hearts on Saturday.
Bradley had started that game in centre defence alongside Ian Sharps with Johnny Mullins the one to sit it out. The game before, Bradley and Muillins had started together.
It was from centre-back that Bradley scored the equaliser in that 2-1 win over Doncaster Rovers but he finished the game in midfield.
Saturday’s switch to right-back after Hunt’s departure isn’t a new role for Bradley. He figured there last season at times.
Although nominally a midfield player - his one cap for Wales a year ago was in a midfield role - it appears that boss Evans sees him as a central defender and he is regarded as cover for what may be reckoned the first-choice pairing of Sharps and Mullins.
However, performances such as Bradley’s add weight to manager Evans’ assesrtion that he has options within the squad and, with that, strong competition for places.
He is likely to play close to what may be termed his strongest side tonight.
“Hearts proved a big step up in class and I expect Sheffield United to be a huge test for us. With the ground near enough at capacity and playing one of our neighbours, it will be a great atmosphere, that’s for sure,” said Evans.
“We’ll get an idea tonight what this place can be like.”
Tickets will remain on sale to Rotherham fans until 6pm tonight but only from Mangham House at Parkgate. Tickets are NOT available at New York Stadium at any time.
Sheffield United were allowed an allocation of 3,500 and have sold them, which means that for the first time the ground will be tested near to its 12,000 capacity.
It will be the biggest attendance yet.
The man in charge is 2010 World Cup Final referee Howard Webb who hoped to take the first game at the stadium but was on UEFA duty.