The importance of Tyler Blackett to Rotherham United

Tyler Blackett leads Rotherham United's defence at Cardiff City in the Championship last weekend. Picture: Jim BrailsfordTyler Blackett leads Rotherham United's defence at Cardiff City in the Championship last weekend. Picture: Jim Brailsford
Tyler Blackett leads Rotherham United's defence at Cardiff City in the Championship last weekend. Picture: Jim Brailsford
MANAGER Matt Taylor was touching wood as he said it.

“Yes,” he agreed. “Tyler has become a very important player for us.”

The Rotherham United manager was talking about former Manchester United prospect Blackett who has played more first-team minutes for the club this season than any other player.

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The Millers need to keep the centre-half fit. While all his fellow centre-backs have been confined to the treatment room at various stages, the 29-year-old is the only one who has started every league game.

Blackett's career, which took him from Old Trafford to Reading to Major League Soccer in America, has stalled in the last couple of years or so and he's making up for lost time.

“His availability has been outstanding thus far,” said Taylor whose team face their third successive long away trip on the trot when they head to Southampton on Saturday. “His form has been good but I think there is more to come from him.

“In the last 18 months and probably beyond he hasn't played enough football. He's still getting the confidence back in himself and his game. He'll take it to another level. Believe me, he has got more gears to go through.”

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Blackett arrived at AESSEAL New York Stadium last March on a short-term deal after being without a club for more than three months following his departure from FC Cincinnati.

Hamstring trouble restricted his game-time in the Championship survival run-in but Taylor had been impressed enough to tie him to a one-year contract in the summer and, with a full pre-season under his belt, the imposing, mobile defender has duly delivered.

“He's an ex Premier League player,” his boss said. “You don't come through his kind of pathway without having something inside you. He might have forgotten it a bit in the last couple of seasons. We'll help him get it back. It was a big moment when we re-signed him.”

Blackett, who was due to start last night's home clash with Bristol City, has lined up alongside Sean Morrison, Cameron Humphreys, Dexter Lembikisa and Cohen Bramall at various stages and has taken his change of backline partners in his cultured stride.

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“It's going to happen at certain times,” he said. “You just have to adapt.”

The 23rd-placed Millers headed into the Robins match seeking only their second three-point haul and the centre-half would love to have more victories as well as all those match minutes under his belt.

“I didn't know that,” he said when he was told of the stat. “I just try to do the right things off the pitch so I'm ready for the next game. It's pleasing for me but I'd be a lot happier if we'd won more games.”