Manager Paul Warne has revealed why he consigned one of the country’s most lethal marksmen to the bench as Rotherham United racked up another Christmas victory.
The Millers claimed their second League one win of the festive period by beating Bury 3-0 at Gigg Lane on Boxing Day to move within two points of the play-off places.
They did it without the services of Kieffer Moore for 79 minutes, with Warne choosing to name his 13-goal talisman as a substitute on the loan centre-forward’s return from a three-match man.
The boss kept faith with 21-year-old striker Jerry Yates who had impressed in Moore’s absence and claimed the first goal in the 2-1 AESSEAL New York Stadium triumph over MK Dons on Boxing Day.
“I don’t know if people were surprised Kieffer wasn’t in the team,” Warne said. “Jerry more than deserved to keep the shirt. I like to reward excellence.
“I thought the lads played well in the last home game, so we set up exactly the same. Jerry’s performances have been very good. He gives us energy up front.”
Moore is eligible for Saturday’s final match of 2017, at Walsall, before parent club Ipswich Town recall him in January, but Warne, who has seen his side take 10 points from their last four fixtures, will think hard before altering his line-up.
“I don’t want to change the team for no reason,” he said. “If the lads are performing well and winning games, I’d be stupid to. It wouldn’t bother me if Jerry was a 16-year-old. If he was playing well in a winning team, he’d keep his place.
“Kieffer is unlucky not to start because he has been brilliant for us, but unfortunately he got sent off and missed three games and football moves on.”
Rotherham, now up to eighth place, went seven league matches without a win before halting the slide by beating Blackpool at Bloomfield Road on December 9 and haven’t lost since.
They are monitoring midfielder Richie Towell who had to be withdrawn in the second half against Bury because of a back spasm.
“I don’t know if Richie is out for the weekend. I have a lot of talents, but physiotherapy isn’t my strongest,” Warne said. “I’m hoping it will settle down nicely and that, with pain-killers and anti-inflammatories, he will be fine.”
The Millers will again be without winger Jon Taylor, who is training again after a knee injury, and midfield man Darren Potter, out with an achilles problem.
“Hopefully, Taylor will be back in the next 10 days,” Warne said. “Potter should be back in the next couple of weeks.
“We have got good competition for places. What we also have is a really good atmosphere. I said to the lads before the Bury game, I could really sniff a good day.
“They get on brilliantly. We’ve had a great training period over Christmas. Sometimes, that whole character and togetherness is worth 10 points a season. We’ve got it here.
“Even when the lads had a bit of a wobble, they kept close together. Hopefully, we’re out of that and can pick up more wins.”
Rotherham’s latest victory came through early goals by David Ball and Lee Frecklington and a late Will Vaulks long-range cracker.
“Will scored in the 83rd minute,” Warne said. “I was saying to Richie (No 2 Barker), I don’t mind if we just keep it in a corner now, grab a throw-in, all that kind of malarkey.
“Then Will put it in. I said to Richie: ‘In fairness, I’ll take that over a throw-in!’”