Rotherham United are poised to bring top scorer Kieffer Moore straight back into the side despite going on a three-match unbeaten run in the striker’s absence.
The ninth-placed Millers have taken seven points out of a possible nine during the 13-goal hitman’s three-game ban to move within three points of a League One play-off spot.
But, following yesterday’s 2-1 home win over MK Dons, manager Paul Warne dropped a broad hint that Moore will return for the Boxing Day clash at bottom club Bury.
“I think, deep down, you know what I’m going to do,” he said. “If Harry Kane missed three games for Tottenham, there’s a good chance he’s get back in the team no matter how well they’d done.”
Young centre-forward Jerry Yates, a scorer against the Dons, has done well while Moore has been sidelined, but even he expects Warne to turn to Rotherham’s talisman.
“Kieffer has been unbelievable all season,” he said. “You can’t really not play him, to be fair, but we’ll see. It’s up to the gaffer now.”
Loan star Moore is set to be recalled by parent club Ipswich Town in January and Warne obviously wants to make the most of the 6ft 5in forward’s talents while he still can.
The boss is giving his players Christmas Day off and in return expects a big performance at Gigg Lane
“I’d rather come in. However, I know I have players like Bally (David Ball) who lives two hours away,” he said.
“When I played at Oldham, I drove for an hour and a quarter to training. We trained for about 20 minutes and it was just a jolly-up of a session. I was raging because I had two young kids.
“I don’t mind coming in for a proper session but you don’t ever really get a proper session because all the lads are looking at the clock and all their cars are facing the right way to go back to their families.
“I’m a firm believer in family time being crucial. I’ve given them Christmas Day off and for that I expect them to perform at an unbelievable level on Boxing Day.”
The players attended Tony Stewart’s Chairman’s Ball at AESSEAL last night but had already undergone a match debrief and begun their preparations for Bury before the event at AESSEAL New York Stadium got under way.
“We starting the process for the Bury game. We’ll do that further tomorrow (Sunday), which allows them to have Christmas Day off,” Warne said minutes after the final whistle.
“They all have to send in a video of themselves going out for a run on Christmas Day. I trust my players. They’ve earned my trust.”
Midfielder Vaulks scored a wonder-goal and was Man of the Match as he deputised at centre-half for the suspended Richard Wood. Wood is available for the Shakers clash and Warne is happy to have a decision to make about who partners Semi Ajayi in central defence.
“There are no headaches when you’re winning,” the manager grinned.