Last Tuesday came the disappointing news that no Rotherham United supporter wanted to hear. New manager Alan Stubbs regrettably declared on the club’s website that key striker Jonson Clarke-Harris is expected to be out for six to nine months with an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
The injury was sustained in the club’s first friendly with non-league side Parkgate FC, in which Rotherham comfortably won 7-0. The former Hibernian manager released this statement:
“The injury came from a nothing kind of challenge, but unfortunately our worst fears have now been confirmed. We will do everything we can to try and get Jono back as soon as possible.” – Alan Stubbs
The pacey, Leicester-born striker may have been prepared to play a crucial role in Stubbs’s plans for Rotherham. This will have to be put on hold. As a result, the club currently has just one fit first team striker at their disposal in the form of Danny Ward. This is because former strikers Leon Best and Matty Derbyshire both departed the club after the season had concluded.
I was slightly bewildered to see the club choose to release Derbyshire particularly, considering he has been Rotherham’s top scorer for the past two seasons. The former Blackburn striker clearly showed his goal scoring exploits, performing a crucial role under previous manager Neil Warnock throughout the 2015/16 season, particularly in the latter stages of Warnock’s revival. Most notably scoring against local rivals Sheffield Wednesday, a lob against Bristol City and a cool, rebounded finish in a 4-0 thrashing of MK Dons. Derbyshire now plays for Omonia FC in Cyprus.
Perhaps the decision to let Derbyshire go can be perceived as a mistake by Stubbs, certainly if he fails to secure the signing of at least one quality, proven goal scorer before the season commences.
However, what will slightly encourage supporters is the noticeable talent of youngster Jerry Yates. The 19-year-old made his first team debut last season, understandably scoring no goals with only a short cameo appearance under his belt. Nevertheless, Jerry has captured the eye so far in pre-season, scoring a penalty against Polish side Miedz Legnica. In addition to this, he most recently slotted home the only Rotherham goal in their 2-1 defeat at the New York Stadium to Sunderland yesterday in which he also received the man of the match award for his efforts.
Regardless of the promising future for Yates, Rotherham simply have to sign in my opinion, at least two more strikers to make up for current and possible occurrence of injuries, as well as other issues which the season can entail. Without such additions in attack, it could prove to be an uneasy start to Rotherham’s third consecutive season in the Championship.