ROTHERHAM United will aim to take advantage of Notts County’s wobbling home form but will be wary of a backlash from the League One side in tonight’s FA Cup second round replay at Meadow Lane.
The faltering record of Keith Curle’s side at home is somewhat surprising considering the astonishing unbeaten away run they are on - no away defeats at all this season and it is 21 successive away games, stretching back to February, since they lost away.
Their difficulties at home continued on Saturday when going down 2-1 to a last minute winner by Brentford who thus jumped into second place. It means they have won one of their last eight at home.
Rotherham will hope they can expose any insecurity Notts may have in front of their home fans but evidence from the first game at the New York Stadium, which ended 1-1, indicates what they are capable of.
The Millers handled it well but clearly know it will be different going into County’s own backyard and Rotherham manager Steve Evans didn’t try to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes with his assessment of the task ahead.
“We’ll go there and have a go but we also go there with a touch of realism that it is going to be tough, we know that,” said Evans.
He is promising changes and is committed to two in his back four.
Ian Sharps has a one-match ban for his fifth booking whilst Liam Ridehalgh isn’t allowed to play by his club Huddersfield.
The obvious way to go would appear to be switching Johnny Mullins back into centre defence and recalling Mark Bradley at right back. He would then have the option at left back of Jack O’Connell, the young defender on loan from Blackburn, or Courtney Cameron, predominantly a left winger but who played left back in the original tie.
The other apparent alternative would be leaving Mullins at right back, playing Bradley at left back and having O’Connell in centre defence alongside Kari Arnason.
He said he would not call up Nicky Hunt to fill a full back role.
Evans says he will check the fitness data on individuals before finalising the line-up.
“I want to see what it tells me about energy levels and I have to think about that,” he said.
“Although we were well beaten at Dagenham - and it could have been ten - we came off the back of the Stevenage game and then a real tough one at Fleetwood. Then we had the travel problem on the Friday, having to turn round and go down on the Saturday. There was some tiredness there and I want to guard against anything of that nature.
“We have three away games in a week and there’s quite a bit of travelling involved. It’s right to look at people’s energy levels.
We’ll go to win but we have to stay in the game and if it’s level at 70 minutes then the pressure will come on Notts County.”
Goalkeeper Scott Shearer will be available after missing out on Saturday with an elbow injury.
Former Millers winger Jamal Campbell-Ryce returned to the County side on Saturday after a ban and he has called on his teamates for a response tonight.
“We need to get back to our passing game, we used the long ball too much in the second half,” he said. “We need a good reaction tonight and to pass the ball the way we can.”
Notts will have wide man Alan Judge available after he served a one-match ban at the weekend. Central defender Dean Leacock is a doubt after coming off on Saturday.
The winners are away to Aldershot in the third round.