Five men who could be key to Millers' fortunes

By Joe Cawthorn | 06/06/2017 0 comments

Five men who could be key to Millers' fortunes
WILL VAULKS...Could be a key League One operator

THE Millers are already planning for next season - and one area that has to be right is the backbone of the side. Here, JOE CAWTHORN takes a look at five current players who are likely to be around next season and could form the all-important spine of Paul Warne's squad...men who are expected to be the keys to unlocking the club's fortunes.

RICHARD O'DONNELL

THE man between the sticks has been a talking point for almost a year now.

Since Lee Camp injured his knee against Leeds in former manager Kenny Jackett's last game in charge, the Millers have struggled to establish a number one.

Lewis Price came in and did well before his form and ultimately his fitness went downhill. January recruit Richard O'Donnell finished the season as the regular goalkeeper and although there have been question marks over how well he can command his area, he has shown he is an able shot-stopper.

He also looked more confident after a prolonged spell of games.

The 28-year-old former Bristol City and Wigan man has good third tier experience and if the Millers are to be successful, they will need him to produce the kind of form that saw him named Walsall's player of the year in 2015.

SEMI AJAYI

WHEN the 23-year-old former Arsenal youngster was brought in on-loan from Cardiff City, many Millers fans will have been forgiven for asking 'who?'

Not a household name by any stretch of the imagination, but he is becoming something of a cult figure at the NYS.

After a stuttering start the centre back took off and showed at times what Arsene Wenger must have seen in him when he was a teenager, using his pace, athleticism and presence to keep out a number of experienced Championship strikers.

Rotherham's defence was the worst in the country last term and if they are going to establish themselves in League One they will certainly need to address that.
Ajayi could be the man to hang a hat on and build a defence around.

LEE FRECKLINGTON

THE club skipper has been the centre piece for so many good things at the NYS over his four year spell at the club.

The talisman, the lynchpin - call him what you will - he was a key cog in Steve Evans' promotion juggernaut.

Therefore his absence through injury this year has been a big loss. His energy on the pitch and natural fitness usually give the Millers a keen runner and goalscoring central midfielder.

That has been missing this term as the 31-year-old missed large chunks with an ankle injury, making just 22 appearances, a lot of which weren't full games.

If he can stay fully fit next year the former Lincoln and Peterborough man could be the difference between success and failure. 

His experience and presence on the pitch was sorely missed and as he approaches the end of his Millers contract, everyone will be hoping he can have more of a say in this year's fixtures.

JONSON CLARKE-HARRIS

COULD the Millers' season have been different had Clarke-Harris not limped off the pitch with a serious knee injury in the pre-season friendly against Parkgate?

Probably not greatly so, but there's no doubt that not having him as an option for the majority of a painful season was a blow.

His power and build make him a handful for most centre-backs and he showed in flashes upon his return that he has all the tools in his locker.

Hopefully the 22-year-old former Oldham man will come to pre-season in tip-top shape and if pictures on social media of him pounding the streets of Rawmarsh are anything to go by, he is taking manager Paul Warne's summer fitness programme incredibly seriously.

He could be the key man up top next year and given the fact he's only penned a one-year-deal, he should have it all to play for.

WILL VAULKS

IF there was an award for the most improved player last season, then Will Vaulks may have grabbed it.

Having said that, he started very well in the first game of the season, scoring a thunderbolt and giving the home crowd their first view of his trademark somersault celebration.

But much like the Millers that day, Vaulks' form dipped horribly and half way through the season it looked like the  23-year-old signed from Falkirk could be a dud.

However, he started winning more battles in midfield, performed admirably when switched to right-back and said the right things in press conferences.

He was often a rare bright spark in a second half of the season that was dull for so many reasons. Fingers crossed that he kicks on from there next year.

Do you agree with our five? Let us know by commenting below.


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