WITH Craig Morgan ruled out for at least the next six weeks, Rotherham United followers would have reckoned there was an instant centre defence replacement ready, primed and waiting in Johnny Mullins.
On loan at Oxford United, a move that took him closer to home, Mullins has been playing regularly for Chris Wilder’s side having not figured in Rotherham’s starting line-up since September 8.
In simple terms, Morgan was preferred to him and, in view of his performances, it has been a judgment that has been proved to be quite correct which is nothing against Mullins who was, rightly, the club’s Player of the Year last season.
Under normal circumstances, Millers manager Steve Evans would have popped Kari Arnason alongside Ian Sharps but Arnason remains sidelined with a shoulder injury.
So, a recall for Mullins (who can be brought back at 24 hours’ notice) looked the simplest and obvious option but one could understand Evans looking to see if there was someone else out there.
Bring back Mullins and he would have just two central defenders between now and January (the loan window closes on Thursday). The ‘cover’ would be Arnason (but not just yet) or asking Mark Bradley (now first choice right back) or midfielder Jason Taylor to fill in there. Not ideal.
Bring someone else in and he’d always have Mullins as a ‘fall back’ card if there was further bad luck with injury.
Tonight’s home game with Wycombe Wanderers also represents the last game of Lee Frecklington’s loan spell so a decision will be finalised - or at least publicised - in the next 24 hours or so.
Obviously Rotherham want to keep him. His impact has been substantial,
He has indicated that he sees no reason not to extend the stay but Rotherham will remain in the hands of his club Peterborough.
Then there is the budgetary factor. An extension for Frecklington is more expense and so too another loan signing of a defender.
Rotherham currently have in the side four players on loan (Morgan, who has broken a small bone in his ankle, is not a loan) and the maximum allowed to play at any one time is five.
Wycombe arrive having dropped to the bottom of the table but with Millers assistant manager Paul Raynor admitting his surprise in view of the players they have.