Rotherham United manager Paul Warne spoke to the local press ahead of Saturday’s Sky Bet Championship clash with Preston North End at Deepdale.
The Millers head to Lancashire off the back of a strong run of form, which has seen them win three of their last five matches in the league. This has been no doubt helped by his side’s recent goal scoring exploits, with Warne’s men scoring 11 times in those five games, something which is discussed.
Another factor has been the form of striker Michael Smith, who has netted six goals in his last eight appearances, the manager discusses the form of his forward, as well as the rest of his team, including new loan signing Ryan Giles, who has scored twice in his first three appearances.
Also on the agenda for the gaffer was his latest team news ahead of the clash, facing North End and come up against goalkeeper Daniel Iversen, who spent the last campaign on loan with the Millers from Leicester City.
Warne on team news…
“Jamal Blackman is still self-isolating and is unavailable for this weekend.
"Kieran Sadlier has done some training this week, because of the flooding he couldn’t train on the astro, so this weekend might be a little too soon for him.
"Joe Mattock is unfortunately 6-8 weeks, so I don’t expect him to play any part until mid-March.”
Warne on competition for places…
“The two knew lads and players coming back fit definitely helps with competition for places and options to change games off the bench.
When you make changes, you don’t feel like you’re weakening the team. With the packed fixture schedule, we need to be making changes and keep the team fresh, it is absolutely essential. In that respect, we feel like we’re in a good place.
“I don’t find the decisions tough at the moment, the lads are all fit and playing really well, you just need competition. For example if Jamie Lindsay isn’t quite at it and he knows he has others waiting in the wings, he knows there is a very good chance we’ll make a change.
“The players on the pitch are lucky, but it is all driven by the players in training and the standards that are set. That is how I see it, when there’s that many games it is easier to keep your squad motivated and content.”
Warne on Ryan Giles…
“He’s doing well, as a wing-back you come in two forms really. You’re either a full-back who has been made into a wing-back like Matt Olosunde or Ryan, who is a winger that has become a wing-back and main job is to attack.
“Both have their strengths and weaknesses and we just need to help Ryan become the overall package like everyone else. He is close to playing, but in fairness he has come on in two games and scored two goals, so if he keeps doing that, he’ll like a modern-day David Fairclough, for those of a certain age.”
Warne on his side’s recent goal-scoring exploits…
“It is essential to score goals to win games quite obviously. I think our goal difference is quite impressive and we’ve scored as many as some of the teams at the top of the league and goal difference can be worth another point come the end of the season.
“I can’t guarantee we’ll score three every week, but we will try too, we had been creating chances without taking them and in recent weeks we’ve been a lot more clinical, hence why we’ve picked up more points.”
Warne on his goalkeepers…
“Jamal was in really good form, so it (his self-isolation) has come at a bad time for him. Viktor came in and did well, he made a crucial save at a crucial time of the game.
They are both good keepers and in fairness if Josh Vickers had to play on Saturday, I’d have no problems with that either. He’s regularly the best in training so we are really blessed in that position.”
Warne on Preston North End...
"You'll be very surprised to hear that I will say it will be a tough game. We're well respectful of the opposition in all the games that we play in.
"They've made some good additions in the window and they've obviously signed Dan Iversen, who we had last year.
"They signed Lindsay from Stoke, who I've been a big fan of, and they signed Whiteman from Doncaster so they have done really well in this window I think.
"They've lost a couple of their key players, everyone knows that, but they've really reinforced their team for a good Play-off push.
"They've got really good players in their team but so have we.
"We just have to go there on the front foot. It's the only way we want to play and we've got a really good group in a real confident place. We'll try and take the game to them again and with any luck we'll score three goals."
Warne on Preston's recent form...
"If you watch their games like we have, they haven't been performing badly.
"Sometimes you're talking about one shot that hits a goalie glove or one that hits the inside of the post and goes in. The margins are ever so small.
"We have to be at our very best as we always do.
"We have to go in as prepared as we can be and take the game to them."
Warne on Richard Wood and being on the scoresheet in the reverse fixture..
"It is always good to see Woody on the scoresheet.
"He's a massive leader for us on and off the pitch and a real organiser.
"He does love to score.
"Woody is fundamental to our success, our set pieces and our organisation. He gives us aggression and in fairness, his will to win has never diminished since the day I met him, hence the reason he's had the career he is having."
Warne on Dan Iversen...
"I thought he was excellent last season.
"Dan played a massive part in our successful season last year. That on top of the fact that he's an amazing kid. A really nice lad. You would definitely have a coffee and a chat with him.
"We used to give him time off for international breaks and that and he'd go home and go fishing with his Dad.
"He's a really chilled out good human and I think his career will go from strength to strength."
Warne on Michael Smith...
"Although we keep telling him and showing him, I don't think he knows how good he is.
"It amazed me that nobody came in for him in the window - I thought they would.
"I speak to managers on the way off after the games, or through the week and they'll say 'we couldn't deal with Smith, his physicality was too much for us' and all of that.
"I tell him that all the time!
"I think he is 90% confident but he doesn't have the 10% uber arrogance of someone who thinks they should play every minute of every game.
"He's a really good solid bloke and even if he is having a bad game, he's still having an effect on it, which is a great attribute to have."