ROTHERHAM United will play four games in a nine-day run of April fixtures that will have a huge say in deciding their Championship survival push.
The Millers face a punishing Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday schedule, with the final two matches in that spell being crucial home clashes with safety rivals Coventry City and Birmingham City.
The Sky Blues match was one of three games postponed earlier this month when Covid swept through the Rotherham camp and will now take place on Thursday April 15 (7pm kick-off) at AESSEAL New York Stadium.
The Birmingham showdown will be three days later on Sunday April 18 (3pm KO) after the Blues agreed to switch the contest from its original date 24 hours earlier.
The Millers begin the nine-day programme with a Saturday visit to Huddersfield Town and entertain QPR on the Tuesday.
Paul Warne's side will play 12 matches in 37 days when they emerge from the international break next Friday for the run-in to the season.
The scheduling of the Coventry and Birmingham games is a victory of sorts for Rotherham who had worried governing body the EFL would force them into an even more brutal sequence of matches.
Speaking before this morning's announcement, manager Warne said: “We are at the stage with the EFL where we have been given two options.
“We selected one option that was preferable to us but they have come back and are saying they want us to take option two.
“We are saying that option two doesn’t look very fair. It would involve a game on a Saturday, Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, which is four matches in eight days.”
Rotherham pressed for Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday and got their wish when the Birmingham game was pushed back by a day.
As a consequence, the Blues will now play their home match against Nottingham Forest on Wednesday April 21 instead of Tuesday April 20.
Coventry's match with Barnsley moves from Saturday April 17 to Sunday April 18.
Rotherham have four games in hand over most of the teams around them because of Covid and weather call-offs.
“It is not something we wanted,” Warne said. “Some other clubs may say we are getting an advantage from this but I think it is anything but. It is a disaster for us. I’d have much rather played two of those four games already and have another two points.”
There was never a chance of the season being extended beyond its May 8 closing day to accommodate the Millers’ backlog.
Figures released by the EFL yesterday show there were zero positive coronavirus tests among players and staff at every Championship club between Monday March 15 and Sunday March 21.