ROTHERHAM United left two key men out of their starting line-up this weekend in a bid to keep them fit for the rest of their League One promotion campaign.
Flying wing-backs Chiedozie Ogbene and Mickel Miller began yesterday's shock 3-0 home loss to Shrewsbury Town among the substitutes as the Millers remained top of the table but saw Wigan Athletic and MK Dons gain ground on them in the race for automatic promotion.
The pair saw action in the AESSEAL New York Stadium contest after the leaders had been reduced to ten men in the first half by a straight red card for centre-half Angus MacDonald who is now facing a three-match ban.
"Both were threatened with injury if they started the game," manager Paul Warne said. "I listen to the medical staff all the time.
"It wasn't ideal to have Mickel even on the bench because he played 90 minutes during the week and we are trying to build him up to make his hamstring more resilient."
Ogbene has appeared in all but one of Rotherham's 39 league matches this season while Miller has been in and out of the side because of hamstring injuries and has been back in the squad for only ten days following his latest issue.
Neither is carrying an injury but the Millers, who have seven games of their run-in left to play, are mindful of the damage that could be caused if either of them are pushed too hard.
Warne has spoken in the past of the susceptibility of power athletes to hamstring problems.
"Chieo is always an injury worry," the boss said. " We have to manage his minutes. If we'd won the game and I'd brought them on with 20 minutes to go it wouldn't be an issue. But I appreciate that when you lose everything is an issue."
The tactic of using him and Miller from the bench worked in a 2-0 triumph at Cheltenham Town in October.
Ogbene will be on duty with the Republic of Ireland for friendlies with Belgium and Lithuania during the two-week international break.
Rotherham's medical team are in regular contact with their Irish counterparts with whom they enjoy a close relationship.
The 24-year-old will be monitored carefully and his amount of game-time adjusted accordingly while he is away from New York.