Alan Stubbs talks to www.themillers.co.uk...
Dexter Blackstock continues to make progress with boss Alan Stubbs explaining the striker has used the international break to further improve his fitness.
Since his move to the AESSEAL New York Stadium, the former Nottingham Forest hit-man has been playing catch up with his fitness after injury hampered his pre-season preparations.
In recent weeks, Blackstock has made cameo appearances in the games against Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town and Newcastle United, but following the break for internationals, Stubbs admitted his latest arrival is closing in on the fitness required to push his team mates for a regular starting berth.
"Dexter didn't go away on international duty, he decided to stay behind and he has done quite a bit of fitness work," Stubbs told Millers Player HD.
"That should have helped him an awful lot. He is certainly getting closer, he is getting sharper in training, you can see that as the days go by, so from that point of view it has been a good break for Dexter.
"Obviously with his experience, you know that the pedigree is there. He has looked brighter in training, and the more you train the sharper you will get. He has been doing extra, separate to the group after training, so that has been topping him up. Even looking at him you can see that he is in better condition now than when we got him."
Stubbs confirmed that Blackstock is now close to being in a position to challenge for a first-team place, with the Millers making the long journey to Norwich City this Saturday for their first outing following the international break.
Danny Ward has been leading the line for the Millers this season, and Stubbs is now pleased with Blackstock's improved fitness that there is now genuine competition for Rotherham's number nine.
"There is competition for places now for Danny," Stubbs added.
"I think that is good. Every team and individual needs it because there is nothing better when you know that there is someone behind you trying to get into the team."