Rotherham United manager Paul Warne spoke to the press ahead of Saturday’s South Yorkshire derby against Barnsley this weekend.
The Millers will make the short trip to South Yorkshire, for their final derby clash of the season, he discussed the prospect of facing the Tykes at Oakwell.
Also on the agenda for the manager was Joe Mattock’s fitness, as well as preparing for the game without knowing whether Matt Crooks will be available from suspension or not, with the club lodging an appeal in an attempt to overturn his dismissal against Middlesbrough.
You can read highlights from the manager’s interview below…
Warne on team news ahead the weekend…
“Joe Mattock will be available for the weekend, in fairness to Joe he has been through a fairly significant ankle operation. Two incidents happened which made him feel a little bit uncomfortable. He’ll be fine for nest season, but at the moment we just need to monitor him.
“I could start him or use him as the game progresses, he’s a doubt for 90 minutes, but he will be available for the squad, which is good news.”
“That is good news and I’ve got Shanny Mac available as well. Of course, I’ve got the availability of Woody as well, so we’ve got a few options to choose from.”
Warne on preparing for the game, not knowing if Matt Crooks will be available or not…
“We’ve been preparing with two teams, one with and the other without Crooksy. We should know if our appeal has been successful tomorrow, so I’ve put training back because there’s no point going through it unless we know what the team is.
“We’re doing a light session, for obvious reasons, it has been an intense couple of weeks. Crooksy is a difficult player to replace, so it would be a blow if he isn’t available, but if he isn’t, it is an opportunity for someone else.”
Warne on Crooks’ importance to the team…
“I don’t think we alter the way we play whether we have him in the team or not, but it is a good psychological boost for the players when they see him on the pitch.
“I think that is the same for many players and teams. Tottenham for example, if they play without Harry Kane, they probably play the same way, but are arguably not the same team.
“I think Crooksy is fundamental to how hard we try and work out of possession and in our attempts to try and break into the box.
“He’s a big personality and has been here for a while, so I think he is a big player for the team.”
Warne on his side’s luck this season…
“To balance out some of the luck we’ve had this season, I think I’d need a couple of goals off a seagull and the odd random German Shepard running onto the pitch and heading one in at the near post!
“I do think we’re unlucky at times. They say at the end of the season you ultimately get what you get, but I do think we’ve been dealt a bit of a hard card this year.
“I’ve just been watching the Barnsley game back from earlier in the season when we played them. We’d been away from the training ground for two weeks. We’ve had the odd decision against us, but you do get that.
“However the culmination in fixtures has been difficult and now it’s over, I can possibly moan about it more, because I didn’t want to make a big deal about it at the time.
“I am a dreamer, I am a positive guy and I do like to try and prove people wrong. I just think you have two ways in life to go about it.
“You can either be a parrot, who talks a lot but doesn’t fly or you can be an eagle and fly. I feel like I want to be an eagle and I’ll enjoy being in the sky as long as I can.
“I think we still have chance, I difficult task don’t get me wrong. We’re going to need two or three wins and it is a big ask, but why not.
“I won’t have any negativity around the place, hopefully if we do get the rub of the green against some very good teams, we might just make it happen.”
Warne on staying positive until the last ball is kicked in 2020/21...
"Everyone has different opinions on the team, the shape and the way we train.
"When I say everyone I mean everyone - the fans, the owners, owners of other clubs and the players in the dressing room.
"You can only try your best and I will not look back with my staff on how hard we've worked and think we could have done any more.
"We've tried to do the right things and obviously we haven't got everything right - no football manager in the world does.
"I'm walking around the training ground now thinking 'one day I won't do this and one day I won't be the manager of this club that I've had a really good relationship with'.
"Even though it is really tough at the moment with the fixtures, the sleep deprivation and the emotional rollercoaster it is still really enjoyable.
"I always say to the lads "the sun will come up tomorrow and we'll attack the next day" and that is all we can do.
"We've had a really good crack at it and some really good performances this year. I still think we are worthy of more points than we have collected but if we do fall short, I appreciate that is on the head of the manager, it is on me."
Warne on Barnsley...
"Barnsley have found a way to play which has been really successful for them.
"They are all well-aware of how they play and they want to turn you at any opportunity.
"They want to put their set pieces under the crossbar but fundamentally - and it is a great strength of Barnsley's - they just want to compete with everything.
"I can't be critical on the performance last time we played them, but I just wish when we'd have played that game we'd have been right at it.
"For us to get anything from Barnsley we firstly have to match their physicality, competitiveness and their running off-the-ball.
"Then we give ourselves a chance.
"If we don't do that and I don't pick a competitive team which I think can achieve that, then we're in for a long afternoon because they are one of the top 10 in-form sides at the moment. They're doing really well and creating loads of chances."
Warne reaffirms importance of playing for maximum points this weekend...
"I don't mean this in a rude way at all but it is like a percentage game.
"They make you defend 50 attempts in your box with crosses coming in from everywhere.
"You have to literally look after them man-for-man.
"We do obviously highlight their strengths but a lot of the team meetings at the minute, when you're trying to build confidence for the last few games, has to be us showing the lads how we can hurt the opposition and what we can do when we have the ball.
"At 5pm a 0-0 might be a great point, but we want to go there and win three."
Warne's rationale for home and away form this season...
"Home or away doesn't make any difference this year.
"I think we have done better on the bigger pitches because we're quite an athletic team.
"Barnsley's pitch is nice and big, as is Cardiff's.
"They are two really good away games for us really.
"We have struggled at home and we have definitely missed - as all teams have - the fans, but possibly us more than most.
"Last night, when you go down to 10 men with over 60 minutes to go, that is when you do need your fans.
"With the games left, we still have opportunities and whilst we have opportunities we have hope."