Leam Richardson on what Rotherham United must do to win the Sheffield Wednesday derby

BOSS Leam Richardson has laid out the combative approach Rotherham United will adopt as they seek to take the derby-day spoils and lift a season of gloom against Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow.
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The Millers are almost certain to be relegated at the end of the Championship campaign but their new head coach is calling for a performance and a result in the biggest game on the calendar at AESSEAL New York Stadium.

Richardson, who took the reins in December, fully appreciates the importance of the South Yorkshire showdown to home supporters who have been starved of much to cheer in a torrid year that has brought only three victories.

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“Derbies are for the fans,” he said. “It's the bragging rights. The message to the players this week has been, make sure we give a really strong account of ourselves against a good team. They're our local rivals and we want to make sure we come out on top.

Rotherham United head coach Leam RichardsonRotherham United head coach Leam Richardson
Rotherham United head coach Leam Richardson

“We're more focused on ourselves, we're not really concerned about them. When that ball moves on Saturday we want to make sure we win 99.9 per cent of the duels.

“We know the qualities they bring but we also know what it takes to compete. We need to be as controlled and aggressive as we can be.”

Bottom-placed Rotherham's performance levels have improved in recent weeks, despite six successive losses, but they are coming up against opposition who have won three of their last four matches in their fight to climb out of 23rd spot and into the safety zone.

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Wednesday recruited well in January and loan new boys striker Ike Ugbo, attacking midfielder Ian Poveda and goalkeeper James Beadle have all made a significant impact as the Owls have closed to within three points of the survival mark.

They also have in their ranks three four Millers old boys - centre-forward Michael Smith, centre-half Michael Ihiekwe, midfielder Will Vaulks and full-back Reece James - who will be keen to make their mark if they are selected for the New York contest.

“They've gone into the transfer window and strengthened in areas,” Richardson said. “They try to control the game in the middle of the pitch with Barry (Bannan) and Will.

“They've got a few players who used to be here as well. We wish them well after the game, certainly not before it. It's up to us to impose ourselves on the game.”

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Meanwhile, the Rotherham boss - a Leeds United season-ticket-holder when he was growing up - is backing Millers supporters to step up, just like his players, when the first whistle blows at 3pm.

“You have to know this game means to the fans, know what it means to the club,” he said. "The positions the teams are in, that goes out of the window for me tomorrow.

“I've been a fan at derbies myself. We all know what it takes to turn up and will your team to win. I expect our fans will be in full voice tomorrow, certainly drowning out their fans.”