Reading v Rotherham United a 'cup final' but not do or die, says Paul Warne

ROTHERHAM United head into the first of their 13 survival "cup finals" with manager Paul Warne insisting nothing will be decided in the crunch clash at Championship relegation rivals Reading.
Paul WarnePaul Warne
Paul Warne

The Millers head to the Madejski Stadium this weekend third from bottom of the table to face opponents who are above them only on goal difference.

Warne acknowledges the significance of match in the battle to stay up but claimed: "It isn't make or break."

He added: "If we were to lose, we're just three and a bit points behind them with 12 games left and it's up to us to catch them.

"If we win, all it's done is get us three points ahead of them and given us a bit of breathing space.

"Nothing really changes. Neither result is a drama."

Rotherham travel to Berkshire in search of their first away victory of the season having drawn their last four matches. The Royals had racked three draws and a win before losing 4-0 at Sheffield United last weekend.

"It might look to people like it's one of our easier games but I don't necessarily think it is," Warne said. "You can play a team higher up the table and going for the play-offs and they might under-estimate you.

"Reading definitely won't under-estimate us. It will be a real game. They're all real games in this league. There are no easy ones at all.

"At this stage of the season, every single time I speak to you I say it's a big game up next. Every game now is a cup final."

Millwall are now five points clear of the bottom four with a game in hand - as are Wigan Athletic - after their surprise win at Derby County on Wednesday.

The Millers' pursuit of a free-agent striker with Bundesliga experience in Germany looks to have come to an end because of paperwork problems at his last club, in Saudi Arabia.

"There is nothing at all there at the moment," Warne said. "I can't see anything happening at all. I think we can pretty much rule that out."

The forward had trained with with Rotherham but the lack of international clearance meant he was unable to play on trial in a reserve game.

Meanwhile, the Millers have no fresh injury concerns for the Reading encounter and Warne is delighted to have all four of his wingers - Jon Taylor, Anthony Forde, Ryan Williams and Joe Newell - back at his disposal now Williams and Newell are clear of hamstring and groin issues respectively.

Ryan Williams

"To suddenly have Willo back fully fit and Newelly back fully fit in the last couple of weeks is a right boost," the boss said.

The squad suffered last-gasp misery last Saturday when Sheffield Wednesday scored an equaliser in the 10th minute of added time, but Warne and his men have put that blow firmly behind them.

"Training has been really good," he said. "The lads are really bright. We worked them hard on Monday and Tuesday. We'll come off them a little bit on Thursday and Friday.

"On Tuesday, everyone trained about 10 kilometres, which is a lot of running at this stage of the season. They are resilient, fit lads.

"The way they are with each other, the way we are with them, how fit they are, I think it all goes into a melting pot of belief. We have physical and mental strength."

Midfielder Darren Potter, out since December 2017 because of achilles problems, is now taking part in passing drills with the first-team squad and could be back in full training within a fortnight.

This article first appeared in the Advertiser