Rotherham United: Warne making changes for Millers’ Charlton clash

Joe Mattock
Joe Mattock
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Rotherham United boss Paul Warne will be forced to change his promotion-chasing side for Easter Monday’s showdown with fellow play-off contenders Charlton Athletic.

Left-back Joe Mattock and midfield man Richie Towell limped out of last Friday’s 1-1 home draw with Peterborough United which left the Millers in fourth place with only seven matches of the regular season remaining.

Mattock has already been ruled out with a hamstring injury and Towell is a major doubt for the clash at the Valley because of a similar problem.

“I think Mattock might be a grade-one hammy,” said Warne after seeing his side concede in the 98th minute when they were set to take three points from Steve Evans’ Posh outfit. “The diagnosis on Mattock was given to me before the final whistle.

“Towell, I don’t honestly know because I haven’t spoken to the physio yet, but I think it could also be a hammy. It will be a blow if both are out.”

Warne, who was intending to shake up his team anyway, was watching a replay of the game with his backroom staff yesterday before finalising his starting 11 against opponents who are two points and two places off the top six after winning their two matches under caretaker boss Lee Bowyer since the departure of Karl Robinson.

Richie Towell

Richie Towell

The Rotherham players were given yesterday off before travelling to London following training today.

“I was already planning to change the side. I’d sort of told the lads that,” the manager said. “I was going to change the way we play and bring a couple of fresh faces in.

“I need to check how Charlton are playing. By all accounts, they’ve gone 4-4-2 now and got back-to-back wins.”

In Towell’s likely absence, Will Vaulks is poised to move back into central midfield from centre-half, with Richard Wood returning to the heart of the defence.

Warne, whose team dominated against Peterborough before their last-gasp setback, has to decide whether to play central defender Michael Ihiekwe at left-back or turn to out-of-favour Ben Purrington who hasn’t featured in the first team since September.

The Millers are six points clear of the team just below them in the table, Scunthorpe United, and eight ahead of the side occupying the last play-off slot, Plymouth Argyle.

Despite his obvious disappointment at conceding so late against Posh, who slipped out of the play-off spots by failing to win, Warne was pleased with his team’s display.

“We couldn’t afford to lose to them,” he said. “If you’d asked me before the game ‘would you take a 1-1 draw and a really good performance?’ I probably would have. And I’m not being negative in saying that. If you give one of the teams chasing you three points, it’s a bigger problem.

“Mind you, If you had asked me after 97 minutes if I’d take 1-1, obviously not!”

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