Concern over Matt Crooks and Ben Wiles as Rotherham United enter crucial week

Matt Crooks is hurt at Norwich. Picture by Jim BrailsfordMatt Crooks is hurt at Norwich. Picture by Jim Brailsford
Matt Crooks is hurt at Norwich. Picture by Jim Brailsford
ROTHERHAM United are assessing the fitness of key men Matt Crooks and Ben Wiles as they gear up for one of their biggest matches of the season tomorrow.

The Millers' clash with survival rivals Nottingham Forest at AESSEAL New York Stadium bidding to end a run of three successive defeats that has sent them back into the Championship's bottom three.

Midfielders Crooks and Wiles both picked up knocks in Saturday's 1-0 loss at leaders Norwich City which came three days after another long trip had brought the same result at Bournemouth.

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"Crooksy has been smashed on the ankle. Hopefully he should be okay," boss Paul Warne said. "Wilesy had a bit of a calf issue. Hopefully he will be okay too. Everyone else is just exhausted."

Crooks was taken off late on at Carrow Road as precaution.

Centre-half Angus MacDonald was substituted at half-time, as Matt Olosunde came on as a wing-back and Wes Harding dropped back into defence, and the manager confirmed that the decision wasn't injury-related.

"I felt we needed Matt's pace on the pitch," he said. "Anyone can come off if I think it's beneficial for the team.

"Probably only two of our players could compete with Norwich pace wise, so I brought another quick one on."

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Warne is expecting  a tough test against Forest who beat Blackburn Rovers at the weekend and trusts in his staff's methods to have the squad physically and mentally ready despite all their recent time on the road.

"We have the same processes," he said. "You can't go up and down like a lunatic. We are always consistent with the players and we will show them the ways we think we can cause Forest problems.

"Forest are in good form. They won again and they made some amazing signings in January. We know it is going to be a formidable challenge to compete with them but we are going to have to because we need to put some points on the board."

Tomorrow night's game is one of two home matches this week, with high-flying Reading due at New York at the weekend

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"Covid has been a leveller with no fans in stadiums so it doesn't make any difference if we're playing at home or away," Warne said. "The only advantage of being at home is that we don't travel.

"I don't want to build up the two games to be more than what they are as we have still got another 17 left, but we do need to pick up points."