Serial scorers Rotherham United could make a push for the top six if they tighten up at the back, believes manager Paul Warne.
The Millers are one of the most potent attacking sides in League One, with only leaders Wigan Athletic and high-flying Blackburn Rovers bagging more than their 36 goals.
But defensive errors have cost them dear and they lie in 10th place as their campaign approaches the halfway point.
“I think we are good going forward,” Warne said. “We need to get better at the back. Getting a regular back five has been difficult this year. The last couple of games, we have defended well. There are improvements to be made.
“The character is there. The lads want to do well. I am hopeful we can get them better and closer to the play-offs.”
Rotherham entertain MK Dons on Saturday having picked up four points in their last two matches with a win at Blackpool and a home draw against Plymouth Argyle when centre-half Richard Wood’s sending-off reduced them to 10 men.
They have 30 points from 22 matches, five less than sixth-placed Charlton Athletic.
“I said at the start that if we finished in the top 10 then we will have had a good season,” Warne said. “We are in a little bit of a transition. But I think we should have accrued more points. I feel we are deserving of a few more points than we have got.”
The Millers boss plans to recruit a right-back and central defender, along with two strikers as loan frontman Kieffer Moore heads back to parent club Ipswich Town, in the January transfer window.
Attacker David Ball, one of the division’s most skilful players, is set to start against the Dons after scoring three goals in his last four outings.
He found his opportunities limited by injury and the form of top scorer Moore - suspended for Saturday’s encounter - following his summer switch from Fleetwood Town but has excelled in recent weeks.
“Bally was the outstanding performer of the game against Plymouth,” Warne said. “He is showing what he can do. He makes it look so easy.
“Through no fault of his own, he hasn’t been selected and been fit. It is not through skullduggery that he hasn’t been playing. I think the supporters appreciate what he can do.”
Among many quality moments against Argyle was a stunning piece of 44th-minute control when he killed a long, high ball stone dead before seeing his shot blocked.
“That one in the first half where he takes it down from over his shoulder,” Warne said. “If he’d scored that, we might have had to turn the lights off and gone home.”