BOSS Paul Warne believes that tomorrow’s derby at Doncaster could hinge on the Millers’ ability to tighten up at the back.
Rotherham have kept just five clean sheets in the league this season, their last coming in a 2-0 victory over Scunthorpe in mid-October.
They head to the Keepmoat for the first time in 10 years and will do so without both senior left-backs. Joe Mattock is serving the second game of his ban while Ben Purrington is recovering from a hamstring injury.
Ben Purrington looks set to miss out
And Warne is aware that despite a defensive re-shuffle being on the cards, his side needs to find the correct formula to keep out Darren Ferguson’s Rovers.
Warne said: “I think obviously we can score goals, I don’t think we should need to score three every time we need to win a game.
“If you can keep a clean sheet then you’ve already got yourself a point and you always fancy us to score, so that would be my wish.”
Although seventh-placed Millers have conceded 22 goals in the league so far, the second highest number in the top ten, Warne believes that many teams are having the same problems.
Mattock is suspended
He added: “In this league, apart from Wigan and Shrewsbury, I think everyone has the same sort of problem as us, winning back-to-back games is difficult.
“Anywhere from third to tenth has similar form to us. If we could defensively tighten up then we’d be in a much better position, but then everyone in the league would say that.”
Rotherham will be backed by just under 4,000 travelling fans and Warne is hoping to give them a ‘great weekend’. But to do that, his team needs to cut out the individual errors which are leaving him and the fans disappointed, he says.
“It’s not like I’m standing there like I was last season thinking we’re getting ripped apart and teams are pulling us all over the gaff.
“It never feels like that, it feels like they might have three attempts on goal and two go in, which is hugely disappointing.
“We’ve had a few individual errors where someone hasn’t picked their man up.
“Obviously we need to stop conceding goals. I’m saying the obvious, even my son could tell me that, if we could tighten up at the back we’d be a really good force.”
On top of the absent Mattock and Purrington, skipper Lee Frecklington is also likely to miss out. He’s back in training but it is thought the derby will come too soon for him, while loan ‘keeper Marek Rodak is away on international duty, meaning Warne has Richard O’Donnell and Lewis Price to pick from between the sticks.
Don't forget to pick up today’s Advertiser for your 24-page sports pull-out, which includes the player Warne believes is like a young Frecklington and why our fan columnist, Sam Hadfield, is looking forward to derby day.