Boss Matt Taylor on why Peter Kioso has been used so sparingly by Rotherham United since the turn of the year
The summer signing was, fitness permitting, one of the boss’s preferred starters, as a wing-back, earlier in the campaign when the Millers were playing a 3-5-2 system.
But the 23-year-old has slipped down the pecking order to such an extent that his league action in the last two months has been restricted to three substitute appearances and he has often missed out on the matchday 18 altogether.
Taylor has cited the change in shape to 4-3-3, which means Kioso is viewed primarily as a right-back, as a major factor in the former Luton Town player’s exclusion.
The form of Lee Peltier in that position and the ability of another right-sided defender, Wes Harding, to cover more than one slot from the bench are other grounds for his absence.
“We’ve had a tweak in formation and within our recent run of games there has been a consistency in our defensive performances,” Taylor said.
“Leading into the Blackburn Rovers game (4-0 win, January 14), ‘PK’ had been playing and getting regular game-time. From that point on, the lads who have been in the team have performed pretty well. We’ve changed the backline only when we’ve had to through injuries. That’s left PK and Wes behind Lee in that right-back slot.”
The manager offered Kioso — whom he tried to sign from Hartlepool United when he was in charge at Exeter City — a ray of hope that more game-time is in the offing as the Millers negotiate their Championship survival run-in.
“PK is still very much part of the plans,” Taylor said. “So much will change between now and the end of the season. PK has a responsibility that when he’s called upon he’s ready, then he has to perform. All of the players have seen in the last couple of months that if you play well you get a chance to keep your shirt. I trust PK’s game if he’s called upon.”
The boss believes Kioso’s attributes fit a defensive role best even though the Dublin-born player has had more attacking briefs in the past.
“With no disrespect to PK, he’s not a right winger,” Taylor said. “He’s similar to Wes and Lee really: they’re suited to having the play in front of them and joining attacks from behind.
“PK can hit the opposition in the air. His physicality is outstanding.”