What chance do Ben Wiles and Richard Wood have of starting for Rotherham United at Bristol City tomorrow?

Ben WilesBen Wiles
Ben Wiles
Millers manager Matt Taylor talks to the Advertiser.

MANAGER Matt Taylor says he will resist the temptation to hand a first Rotherham United start of 2023 to Ben Wiles in tomorrow's Championship clash at Bristol City.

The midfielder is fit again after suffering a severe ankle injury on Boxing Day and made his long-awaited return as a late substitute in Tuesday's 2-2 home draw with champions-elect Burnley.

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However, Taylor isn't ready to throw the 23-year-old into the firing line from the first whistle at Ashton Gate as the 18th-placed Millers look to take another step towards securing their second-tier safety.

"No, he's not there yet," the boss said. "He's still not done enough consistent training. There's no rhythm to his game yet. He had another good training day yesterday on top of that cameo against Burnley. He's getting closer."

Taylor is optimistic that another midfielder, Ollie Rathbone, will be available after missing out against the Clarets because of persistent groin trouble.

He’s also hoping veteran captain and centre-half Richard Wood can feature for the third time in a week after previously being out of favour since January.

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"I thought he was excellent on Tuesday," the boss said. "We conceded two goals but I still felt we defended well. It suited certain personnel, including Woody, when we went to the back five midway through the second half.

"Woody added some physicality to our long throws, to our attacking set-pieces. He's a leader; dependable. He didn't do anything in training yesterday and we hope his body recovers in time to go again at the weekend."

Wood, aged 37, was in defence with a 36-year-old right-back, Lee Peltier, three days ago and the pair defied their advancing years against the already-promoted Clarets.

"We know where Woody's body is at; the same with Lee," Taylor said. "If anyone needs an example of how much the players are putting in for each other those two provided it the other night.

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"We had an attacking corner in the 90th minute. It wasn't one of our best and Burnley were able to counter-attack. Woody and Lee were leading the sprints back. That's when Lee went down with tightness and cramp. They epitomise everything we're about at the moment."

Tomorrow’s opponents, City, beat Rotherham 3-1 at AESSEAL New York Stadium in December in the first match after the World Cup break and sit comfortably in midtable despite winning only one of their last seven fixtures.

"It will be a tough game," Taylor said. "They're an outstanding attacking unit. They have incredible mobility at the top end of the pitch: fresh, brightness, energy. They have some really good young players.

"They love space and it's a big pitch. There will be large areas to cover. We have to take the game to them. We need to get them on the back foot and test their backline. They stretched our backline in the home game, constantly running in behind."