How Steve Evans got injured Rotherham United players performing again

NEW boss Steve Evans has lauded a trio of Rotherham United players for having “hearts the size of lions” after they battled through injury to feature in his first match back in charge.

The manager said defenders Lee Peltier, Cameron Humphreys, Peter Kioso and Grant Hall along with striker Jordan Hugill were all unavailable when he returned to the club last Wednesday for a second spell at the helm in place of sacked Leam Leam Richardson.

He singled out three of them for particular praise following yesterday's 0-0 Championship home draw with Birmingham City.

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“Your Peltiers, your Humphreys, your Hugills, they're ruled out when I walk into the building,” he said. “You talk to them, you break them down and they've gone through the pain barrier.

Jordan Hugill manages to play for Rotherham United against Birmingham City. Picture: Jim BrailsfordJordan Hugill manages to play for Rotherham United against Birmingham City. Picture: Jim Brailsford
Jordan Hugill manages to play for Rotherham United against Birmingham City. Picture: Jim Brailsford

“They're the ones that stand out to me. To come out and produce performances like they did when I know they're in pain, it's a huge credit to them. They had hearts the size of lions for me.”

Peltier, Humphreys, Hugill and Kioso all started the match while Hall was on the bench. Kioso went off injured in the first half.

Peltier and Humphreys had both played in the most recent match prior to Evans appointment: the 1-0 loss at Swansea City last weekend.

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When the Advertiser asked the boss if the returns of Hugill, Kioso and Hall, all of whom had been out of action under Richardson, were a coincidence or down to the effect of his arrival, Evans replied: “I can't speak for them before me and I'm not in a position to be criticising any manager or management team.

“I'm too long in the tooth for that. I think idiots do that. All I did was speak to the senior players and the ones who were injured.

“It wasn't just the ones who came in and played, there were three or four others who were close to trying to play and just couldn't get there for us.”

Evans claimed that GPS data showed that all of Rotherham's players against Birmingham had managed to up their running stats by 20 per cent.

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“It's a lot singly and a lot collectively," he said. “It's just different styles. It doesn't make it right that we play in a particular way and other managers play in another way.

“We have a style that I think is akin to what supporters of this club love. We need a bit more quality and balance within that as well at the top end of the pitch.

“Gary (Birmingham interim boss Rowett) knew he was going to get a different game today than what he possibly thought on Wednesday morning when he woke up.”

The Millers' relegation to League One was confirmed at the start of this month and Evans is determined to restore their second-tier status as soon as possible.

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He thinks he could have saved them from the drop had he been in the hot-seat earlier in the campaign.

“There are big thoughts in my mind that if I'd been here we'd still be in the Championship,” he said. “But that's very easy, as a manager, to say when you've not been involved in it.

“The Championship is a huge league, one of the best in world football. This club should be in it, our chairman should be in it, our supporters should be in it. Look at the stadium, experience the atmosphere, they're made for Championship football.”

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