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Hurst: Rotherham is a Club Very Close to My Heart
Friday, 10th Aug 2018 10:23

Blues boss Paul Hurst will face a club he says is very close to his heart when Town travel to Rotherham for his first away game in charge on Saturday, with the Millers also the side which beat his Shrewsbury team in the League One play-off final in May.

Hurst has fond memories of his long spell at Rotherham, he made 438 starts and 59 sub appearances, scoring 16 goals, between 1993 and 2009, back in the days that they played at Millmoor.

The Sheffield-born former left-back says he’s pleased that the club has grown since then and is looking forward to acquainting himself further with the New York Stadium on Saturday.

“Rotherham are very close to my heart having spent almost all of my playing career there,” he said. “I was pleased for the club it moved on, unfortunately I wasn’t there to play at the new stadium and I’ve only been there a couple of times.

“But my recent memory wasn’t a good one, losing out to them at Wembley, but I'm pleased for them as a football club and pleased for the lads that are there, Paul Warne, Richard Barker, Matt Hamshaw, Mike Pollitt, I played with three of them at Rotherham.

“They’re very good lads and it would be nice to see them on Saturday, but hopefully it might be my turn to be smiling at the end of the game.”

He says he gets on well with Warne, who for an added edge this weekend is a Norwich supporter and a former youth player with his hometown club.

“We’ve stayed in touch and he’s a great character,” Hurst said of Warne. “He makes people laugh, he makes me laugh. Even in management, he doesn’t want to be a manager, but I think he’s enjoyed it the more success he’s had.

Posted by TWTD on Thursday, 9 August 2018

“But fair play to him for sticking with it because he was thrown in at a very difficult time when Rotherham were really struggling in the Championship and that was a real baptism of fire for him.

“Last season it wasn’t exactly a poor start but they weren’t quite as high up the table as they finished and they did very well.

“This time I’ll know he’ll be a lot more optimistic about his chances in the league and they’ll be better prepared.”

The Millers’ return to the Championship got off to the worst possible start last week when they were thrashed 5-1 by Brentford at Griffin Park, a result Hurst believes doesn’t do Town any favours.

“No, that and the fact that it’s their first home game back in the league as well,” he reflected.

“We know they’re going to be fired up for it. I know they’ll be a very fit group of players who will give absolutely everything for Warney and that football club and we’ve got to make sure we’re ready and up for that challenge.

“Yes, it was a heavy defeat at Brentford, I have to say I’ve watched the game and Brentford played extremely well.

“I’d be surprised if they wouldn’t have given everyone a really tough game on the day and, as I’ve just alluded to, despite the scoreline Rotherham kept going right to the end.

“So make no mistake, it’s not going to be a team that’s just going to crumble, we’re going to have to earn everything that we try and get from the game.”

Having added three players to his squad since last week’s 2-2 home draw with Blackburn, Hurst has decisions to make regarding his XI.

Bartosz Bialkowski will be in goal with Jonas Knudsen at left-back and Toto Nsiala - whose last competitive match was the play-off defeat to Rotherham at Wembley - set to make his debut alongside skipper Luke Chambers at the heart of the defence.

Hurst will have to choose between recent signing Janoi Donacien and Jordan Spence at right-back but seems likely to opt for the St Lucian.

Cole Skuse and Trevoh Chalobah look set to continue in the deeper midfield roles with Jon Nolan - again whose last competitive fixture was the play-off final against the Millers - making his debut ahead of them.

Gwion Edwards, last weekend’s star performer against Blackburn, will be on the right with Freddie Sears, whose cross led to the former Posh winger’s goal, probably continuing on the left.

Hurst will probably stick with Ellis Harrison in the lone striker’s role with Kayden Jackson having only joined the club yesterday but the former Accrington man is likely to be handed his debut at some stage.

Midfielder and former Millers loanee Grant Ward is back from his suspension but seems likely to be on the bench.

Rotherham boss Warne is hoping to add to his squad today via the loan option available to EFL clubs until the end of the month.

"We’ve got a dearth in central midfield, everyone knows that, and I’m hopeful for some really good news on one if not two tomorrow [Friday],” he said at his pre-match press conference.

"There’s a great chance I could get someone in but I’ve been saying that for weeks.

"Loan players have done well for us in the past with the likes of Kieffer Moore and Josh Emmanuel.”

Warne says he has a fully fit squad - aside from long-term absentee Darren Potter - going into the match and doesn’t anticipate making too many switches of personnel despite last weekend’s result.

"Everyone is good and there are no issues. We played against a very good team, so it would be wrong of me to make too many changes based on that. I have to pick a team to go toe-to-toe with Ipswich,” he said.

Regarding the hammering by the Bees, he added: "There's no embarrassment or shock but we have to learn the lessons quickly. We picked them up, brushed them down and we'll send them back out.

"I think I feel better now I've watched a few games this week. I think there will be games where the other team has the possession and you just have to hang in. We're reiterating that we can compete but we need to do it consistently.

"I think all teams are harder to beat at home and especially late on in games fans play a part in that. With us, we want to get up as high up the table as we can and hopefully we can start that with a home win on Saturday.”

Warne is pleased his old Millers team-mate has been given the chance he has at Town: “I spoke to him in the summer and it's a great job for him. A couple of my friends are Ipswich fans.

“He's done brilliantly and it's thoroughly deserved. It's great to see a young manager with an opportunity like this.

“He's really strengthened the team and he's brought in players with points to prove. It may take a few weeks to implement his style, but he's got 20 per cent of his outfield that know him already from previous clubs and that will help."

The teams last met at the New York Stadium in April 2017 with Rotherham already relegated to League One.

Current Town player Tom Adeyemi, then on loan with the Millers from Cardiff, netted in the 79th minute to see the South Yorkshiremen to a 1-0 win.

Town keeper Dean Gerken saved a seventh minute Danny Ward penalty, while the Blues went closest to scoring when loanee Dominic Samuel hit the bar in the first half.

In the previous October at Portman Road, David McGoldrick netted a brilliant low drive deep in injury time to grab Town a last-gasp 2-2 draw against the Millers, whose point at Town was one of only two they claimed on the road that season.

Sears had put the Blues in front in the third minute but man of the match Ward equalised four minutes later, then put the visitors in front three minutes after the break.

Town rarely looked like getting back on terms in a lacklustre second half until McGoldrick’s late strike.

The Rotherham squad includes ex-Town keeper Lewis Price. The 34-year-old joined Town as an academy scholar from Southampton and went on to make 74 starts and one sub appearance for the Blues between 2004 and 2007.

Millers central defender Semi Ajayi was on trial with Town in January 2015 when he played a game for the U21s.

Rotherham goalkeeper-coach Mike Pollitt enjoyed a one-game loan spell with the Blues in November 2006, helping Town to a 3-1 derby defeat of Norwich City at Portman Road before his stint was cut short by injuries at his parent club Wigan.

In addition to Blues manager Hurst, academy coach Alan Lee had a successful spell at Millmoor alongside him between 2000 and 2003.

Grant Ward was on loan at the New York Stadium from Tottenham in 2015/16 when he made 35 starts and eight sub appearances, scoring twice.

Adeyemi spent the following year on loan with the Millers, making 29 starts and one sub appearance, scoring seven times.

Right-back Emmanuel spent last season on loan at Rotherham and featured in that play-off victory at Wembley. In total, he made 37 starts and one sub appearance.

Saturday’s referee is David Webb from Lancashire, who has shown 94 yellow cards and three red in 43 matches last season and is yet to take control of a game this year.

Webb’s most recent Town match was the 0-0 home draw with Burton Albion in February, in which he booked only one Brewer.

Prior to that, he was in charge of the 1-1 draw at Leeds in January 2014 in which he booked only Cole Skuse and awarded the home side a penalty, which Ross McCormack converted, after Luke Chambers fouled future Blues outcast Cameron Stewart.

He also refereed the 1-1 draw at Bolton in October 2013 when he booked one player from each side.

More notable was his previous game involving the Blues, the 1-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest in March of the same year when he red-carded two Town players, Lee Martin and Richard Stearman, and showed five yellow cards to Tricky Trees.

Webb’s only Town matches prior to that were the 1-0 victory over Derby at Portman Road in December 2011 - when he booked no Blues and two Rams - and the 2-0 victory at home to Scunthorpe in March of the same year when he yellow-carded Martin, Gareth McAuley, Grant Leadbitter and one visiting player.

Squad from: Bialkowski, Gerken, Donacien, Spence, Knudsen, Kenlock, Chambers (c), Nsiala, Skuse, Chalobah, Downes, Edun, Dozzell, Edwards, Sears, Ward, Roberts, Nolan, Harrison, Jackson, Morris.

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TimmyH added 10:33 - Aug 10
Wouldn't be here either if it wasn't for the play-off loss to them...let's hope Warne doesn't do a double over him tomorrow.

Radlett_blue added 10:35 - Aug 10
Hurst has now brought in 9 players. There must be someone likely to be more effective on the left than Sears!

iaintaylorx added 10:44 - Aug 10
Would really like to see Emmanuel given a chance at RB to be honest. Much better than Spence anyway!

itfckal added 10:54 - Aug 10
3 Point for the boys in blue

rfretwell added 11:02 - Aug 10
Warney needs central midfielders urgently. Shame Bish, Huws & Andre are not yet fit enough to go out on loan cause that would be brilliant for them if only unto January. Nydam perhaps? We gave all given up on Adeyemi, even PH seems to have but if a miracle happened and he got fit again he has goals in him alright.

TractorCam added 11:07 - Aug 10
TimmyH he was definitely coming here whether Shrewsbury went up or not. Let's hope Hurst gets his revenge, sure Nolan/Nsiala will also be extra fired up for this

Pilgrimblue added 11:27 - Aug 10
This is ideal game for Hurst to show his new guys off and hope for win

mathiemagic added 11:46 - Aug 10
Not quite sure we need two deep lying midfielders away at Rotherham. A bit more attack minded please PH.

TimmyH added 12:05 - Aug 10
How do you know that TractorCam?...but wouldn't have surprised me if Evans had it lined up all the time irrespective of all the other possible managers he interviewed.

OwainG1992 added 12:10 - Aug 10
I'd like to see Gwion start from the left and Grant on the right personally.

I'd go Bart
Donacien Chambers Nsiala Jonas
Chalobah and Dozzell/Downes but Skuse will likely start.
Ward Nolan Gwion

guentchev added 12:58 - Aug 10
Must win game...especially given the next few fixtures.

MikeyBlueEyes added 13:03 - Aug 10
I agree with you Radlett_blue - why oh why would Sears start? I wish he'd gone out on loan, for me, he is bench at the very best. Edun showed so much capability when he came on at the weekend, yes, a good cross for the goal from Freddie but for me, he is a weak link and has been for a long time

JewellintheTown added 13:04 - Aug 10
Right. Let go give 'em a battering then.

PJewellisaGod added 13:07 - Aug 10
Real chance for players to enjoy themselves and get a few goals against a team that should have been beaten 8/9-1 against Brentford. One of the few games I am really looking forward to this season against near-certainties for relegation. COYB!!!! Up and at them!!!

Kirbmeister added 13:34 - Aug 10
I’m not assuming this will be an easy game at all.

BlueBlood90 added 14:19 - Aug 10
I really hope we can bring in another winger to replace Sears on the left. He put a good cross in for our goal last weekend but he's just not good enough to be our first choice. I'd much prefer to see him as our back up striker now Garner has left and use the money to get someone of real quality on the wing.

Steve_ITFC_Sweden added 15:03 - Aug 10
I think this match is a bit of a banana skin waiting to happen. We are not gelled yet. Hope I'm wrong and we get a win, not just a draw, or even worse, a defeat. Anyway, I'd go: Donacien, Chambers, Nsiala, Knudsen; Chalobah, Edun; Jackson, Harrison, Edwards. That won't be PH's choice, however. He will probably want more experience (Skuse) in the middle, and he's already said that he sees Jackson as a centre forward (i.e. Jackson OR Harrison, not both). But what is interesting is that we seem to have so many permutations now to choose from, especially midfield. So there is plenty of room for some tinkering. As some others have noted, this is a little worrying for the development of our own younger players, but they will no doubt have to go out on loan. [End of musings!]

Steve_ITFC_Sweden added 15:05 - Aug 10
Damn! Of course, I have to fit Nolan in there somewhere: So I get PH's point. In with Nolan and Jackson OR Harrison. Silly me!

spanishblue added 15:18 - Aug 10
Timmyh I,m 100% certain he'd been appointed long before otherwise who said Hyam out etc etc.this guy takes no sicknotes,love to know if they are fitter these days

tractorboybig added 16:23 - Aug 10
Time to stop the talk and walk the walk, they must be the weakest team in this div?

marco007 added 16:45 - Aug 10
Surely Freddy will not make the starting 11?
I love his effort but I am afraid that he is so lacking in confidence and quality and cannot justify a place in the team partcularly with all the options we now have.
Maybe a loan move with regular football would give him the opportunity that he needs?

Zondervanromeo added 17:26 - Aug 10
Is Emmanuel available ?

BlueandTruesince82 added 18:26 - Aug 10
I think long term Freddy makes way for Tayo on the left but Tayo needs time to get up to speed

guentchev added 19:14 - Aug 10
Hurst used 4-1-4-1 on numerous occasions last year at Shrewsbury so let's see if he's ready to do that against Rotherham. Do see the point others are making....potentially a huge banana skin against what must be the weakest team in this division...but I think we easily have enough to get the win. Anything other than a win will be really bad...especially in the light of the 2-2 draw and the kinds of teams we will be facing in the next few games. We really MUST have 4 points on the board before we go on that journey....

Hurst will know that and will go all guns blazing for that win.....


jas0999 added 20:49 - Aug 10
Appreciate this is work in progress and will take time for this new team to gel. BUT we really need to win this game,

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