Neil Redfearn has offered hope to the out-of-favour players who fear their Rotherham United careers could be over.
Several fringe men have been sent out on loan and the Millers manager is poised to bring in new blood in next month’s transfer window.
But the Rotherham boss says it’s not too late for anyone to force their way into his plans as long as they show the right attitude.
“Never, ever say never,” he said. “If someone is willing to show that determination and that fight to get in, I’ll pick them.
Listen, I’d pick Saddam Hussein if I thought he was good enough. It makes no odds to me. If they’re good enough to play and they show that attitude, I’ll pick them.
“The reason they’re not getting picked is probably because they’ve not shown that attitude.
“You’ve got to force your way in. All the best players I’ve ever played against in my career, they find a way.”
Utility man Greg Halford, attacker Chris Maguire, centre-forward Jordan Bowery, left winger Aidy White and centre-half Richard Wood are all having temporary spells at other clubs, while players like right winger Emmanuel Ledesma, defender Tom Thorpe and midfielders Paul Green and Tony Andreu are finding game-time hard to come by.
Redfearn believes all squad players need to have a genuine prospect of making the cut on matchday to stay fully motivated.
“You have 11 starters and seven subs, so you’ve an 18. You’ve got to make your numbers up, so if you’ve got a squad of around 24 or 26 players who all have a realistic chance of getting in or around the first team that’s about right,” he said.
“The ideal scenario is that your fringe players are the younger ones - your assets, the ones who can dip in and dip out and who you can develop.”
Redfearn has been in the Millers hot-seat since October and say recruitment is vital if the club, who go into today’s home clash with Hull City second bottom in the table, are to remain in the Championship.
“I feel like ... not that I’m starting from scratch, but similar to that,” he said. “I’m building something back up. I’m team building basically. And the process is starting during a season, which is not ideal but is something we’ve got to do.”
The Millers manager says the squad he inherited 11 games ago wasn’t good enough to remain in the second tier, but is adamant his comments shouldn’t be construed as personal criticism of his playing staff.
“These players are trying their hardest, but they need help. The league table says they need some help,” he said. “They need players around them who are better technically, more gifted players who can create in and around the box.
“We’ve got players who can rise to the occasion, there are no two ways about it. That’s why the message is loud and clear - this isn’t a slight on anything we have got or are doing.
“We just need better quality in to help them. Then the situation will start turning around.”
Right-back Lewis Buxton accepts that Rotherham’s league struggles mean that he and some of his teammates are at risk.
“I think every footballer knows that if they don’t perform their place is under threat,” he said. “I think we’ve got the capabilities to beat most of the teams in the league, but, obviously, the league table doesn’t lie.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ll see what happens. Recruitment is down to the manager and the chairman. That’s not something for me to be worrying about.”