Steve Evans has told striker Jonson Clarke-Harris to step up his performances in training if he wants to be a key part of Rotherham United’s first-team plans.
The 21-year-old forward could feature for the Millers at Queens Park Rangers this afternoon after impressing as a substitute in the midweek Championship draw against Preston North End.
“He’s in contention to be involved in the matchday squad,” Evans confirmed.
But the Millers manager added: “Tuesday was the first time he’d been involved in the squad this season because, simply, he didn’t deserve to be before that. Jonson playing like that is why we brought him to the football club. He needs to do it more consistently.
“You have to train as you play. When you go to places like Real Madrid, what you don’t see is players be very poor in training who are then suddenly great on Saturday. It doesn’t happen. It’s all about preparation.”
Fellow striker Jordan Bowery has started the last three matches but his place is in doubt at Loftus Road
“I don’t think he’s done himself justice in any shape or form,” Evans said. “He scored a good goal against Cambridge but wasn’t involved much in the rest of the game.
“I thought we had an excellent performance at Nottingham Forest and Jordan was the one player we were looking at as a management team and thinking: ‘Has he done enough there to be staying in?’ We gave him the benefit. I think against Preston he didn’t have the best of nights.”
Rotherham face a QPR side who were relegated from the Premier League last season and have the benefit of parachute payments as they look to make an instant return to the top flight.
“The gulf in resources is there for everyone to see,“ Evans said. They have to decide whether to sell Matty Phillips for £10 million and Charlie Austin for £15m. There’s the difference in resources.
Evans was watching as Austin scored in QPR’s 3-2 win at Wolves on Wednesday and is a fan of the centre-forward he first encountered in the lower leagues.
“Charlie Austin, I’d buy him if ever I could,” the Rotherham boss said. “I thought he was a superstar in the making when I saw him at Swindon. He scored against my teams then and caused us a lot of problems. I just thought then: ‘There is a goalscorer/front player who has everything in his locker.’”
The Millers missed out on their Premier League loan target, with Evans revealing at his Friday-morning press conference: “We were close yesterday and we’re not close today. So that probably tells you that someone’s gone somewhere else. These things happen.
“We have to understand that in every league there’s a pecking order if you’re a player and you have to go and play your football. We have to respect that. We don’t like it, but we respect it.”
Former Millers loan star Tom Lawrence yesterday joined Blackburn Rovers on a temporary deal.
Rotherham can’t compete with the wage and transfer budgets of many of their second-tier rivals, and Evans added: “It galls me when I see the likes of Jack Hunt want to come here but can’t come here. It galls me in a lot of areas. James Tavernier wanted to come here but couldn’t come here. I could litter you with names where that’s the case.”
Right-back Hunt had a successful loan spell at AESSEAL New York Stadium last term but has since joined Sheffield Wednesday on a season-long loan from Crystal Palace.
James Tavernier, also a right-back, who played a part in the Millers’ promotion from League One, has made a permanent move from Wigan Athletic to Glasgow Rangers.
Forward Danny Ward is fit again after hurting his foot last week against Forest, while Evans is hoping midfielders Lee Frecklington and Joe Newell and left-back Joe Mattock all recover from minor complaints.