Rotherham United: Best shows gratitude with Millers goals

Leon Best scores at Ipswich

Leon Best scores at Ipswich

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Hot-shot Leon Best has thanked Rotherham United for helping him resurrect his career when he was at his lowest ebb.

The former top-flight striker has hit the target three times in his last two games, but had been in the wilderness since leaving Blackburn Rovers at the end of last season until the Millers gambled on him in November.

Now Best is keen to keep scoring to ensure Rotherham win their battle for Championship survival under new boss Neil Warnock.

“I want to thank the club for giving me a chance,” he said, “I signed in November and it had been a hard time. I’d played with Newcastle in the Premier League, scoring goals, and then it had gone to no-one wanting me and saying ‘you’re this and that’.

“There’s no better way to pay them back than to score goals.”

The loan transfer deadline passed yesterday without Rotherham adding to their squad, and part of the reason for that is the faith Warnock has in Best to trouble opposition defences as he works his way towards full fitness after hernia surgery.

The injury the 29-year-old picked up after his November 21 debut at Leeds United kept him out of action until last month but he has come back with a vengeance, scoring twice against Derby County in a 3-3 draw and then bagging the winner in last week’s 1-0 triumph at Ipswich Town.

Rotherham, without a fixture this weekend because of the international break, have won four of their last five matches to climb out of the drop zone.

Best’s recent blast are his first goals in almost two years and have left him hungry for more.

“I have real belief now,” he said. “I can’t wait for the next game. I’ve been way up there, very high, and then I was really low. But those goals have reminded me what it’s about.

Jerry Yates

Jerry Yates

“I want a lot more now. That feeling when you score is an unbelievable feeling.”

Warnock believes Best won’t be back in peak condition until next season.

“He has to work through the summer,” the boss said. “He has had a bad double hernia. His stomach is still not in the best of condition.

“He needs to do a lot of building-up work in the summer to give himself a chance. But I think he is getting sharper.”

Meanwhile, teenager forward Jerry Yates has set himself a target of breaking into the Rotherham first team after signing a new two-year deal.

The 19-year-old, a product of the Millers’ Academy, said: “Hopefully, over the course of next season, I can start to force my way into the team.

“I am delighted to have been given this opportunity. I am really looking forward to my future here.”

Yates made one senior appearance last season, as a late substitute at Birmingham City, and has been on the bench several times this year.

Click here for Dean Hall’s fan column