Rotherham United: Millers make use of inside knowledge

Staying put: Johnny Mullins
Staying put: Johnny Mullins

SHOULD Rotherham United’s trip to Oxford United beat the cold snap, the Millers have one handy weapon in their side.

Defender Johnny Mullins, who scooped Rotherham’s Player of the Year award last term, spent nearly two months on loan at the Kassam Stadium earlier this season.

But since Rotherham manager Steve Evans recalled the Hampstead-born player in November, the 27-year-old has featured prominently in the club’s march up the table.

With Northern Ireland international Craig Morgan unlikely to be available for selection until February, Mullins is set to line up against his old club tomorrow.

Speaking to the press corps yesterday, Paul Raynor, Evans trusted liuetenant, said the Millers will try and use Mullins inside knowledge to their advantage as they aim to get back to winning ways after two successive losses.

“We have had our own looks (at Oxford) and watched DVD’s of them,” said Rotherham’s assistant manager. “Our scouts have watched them but we would be silly not to ask Johnny if there is anything we need to know set piece wise. We will probably have a chat with Johnny about it at the hotel.

“I’m sure they will be wary of the fact that Johnny knows their set pieces and the things they used to try and work on. Chris Wilder (Oxford’s boss) will be wary of that and he may try and change things.”

Raynor said they have fielded no inquires from Oxford or any other clubs regarding the availability of Mullins, who can operate at centre-half or right-back.

He said: “We have not spoken to Johnny in regards to his attitude of playing against Oxford. We all come up against previous clubs so it will be no different for Johnny I would have thought.

“He is a fantastic professional and his preparation will be just the same.

“Johnny is in the team and he is playing well so I wouldn’t anticipate anything. Normally when somebody goes out of the team is when people make inquiries but we have had nothing about Johnny.”

Evans missed the pre-match briefing as he was trying to wrap up a deal for Crawley Town defender Claude Davis. If the Jamaican international decides to join Evans revolution, it could spell the end for Ian Sharps. Shrewsbury Town are rumoured to be interested in re-signing the rugged defender, who rejoined the Millers last summer.

“We have had interest in a number of our players, including Ian,” said Raynor. “He was out of the side for a number of weeks when Kari [Arnason] and Johnny [Mullins] were playing at the heart of the defence.

“He has done well in recent weeks but we have had inquiries for all of our fringe players.”

“We will wait and see if Claude comes through the door,” he added. “If he does, we will look at the options and we see if anyone has got to leave or not going to get the game time.”

Kayode Odejayi and Lionel Ainsworth are also being tracked by several clubs and Raynor expects there to be ins and outs before the transfer window shuts at the end of the month.

He said: “We are always looking to improve.

“When we got wind that Claude [Davis] was not going to be part of Crawley’s plans, then we felt he could bring something to what we needed. It was not something we were going to do but when good players become available we looked at it and thought he could improve us.”

There is a possibility Rotherham’s League Two clash at Oxford could fall foul of the weather. Heavy snow has been forecast for today and Saturday. Rotherham are set to travel south this afternoon and stay overnight in a hotel. For the majority of the week, Oxford have had their pitch covered but they do not have undersoil heating. A decision could be made today.

The U’s are the in-form side in the division, having recorded five wins and three draws from their last eight league outings.