It’s a battle of the two bottom clubs in the Sky Bet Championship on Boxing Day, as Rotherham United welcome Wigan Athletic to the New York Stadium.
Rotherham will be hoping to build on an impressive performance in a South Yorkshire Derby last time out, as The Millers could count themselves unlucky, having lost out in the 93rd minute to a Steven Fletcher penalty for Sheffield Wednesday. Meanwhile, Wigan were beaten narrowly on home turf by Ipswich Town. Like Paul Warne, Warren Joyce could take many positives from that defeat, as even Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy admitted at the end of the game he couldn’t work out how Latics hadn’t earned at least a point.
However, both clubs occupy the bottom two places in the second tier, but Wigan lie 8 points above The Millers, going into the game. A win for The Tics could leave them a point away from safety, and could see them leapfrog Owen Coyle’s Blackburn Rovers side.
This week has been a busy week for both clubs, The Millers announced that Paul Warne would be in charge for all games over the Christmas period, meaning that Warne still has at least another 2 games in charge of United, in which he will be challenged with trying to bridge the gap between themselves and safety. Whereas, Wigan released their financial accounts for the year. Unsurprisingly, as many Championship clubs do, due to the lack of funding from Sponsors, TV money and the league alongside relegation to League 1, The Tics made a loss of £2.3 million in the financial year of 2015/16 (up to 31st May 2016). This confirmed one thing many Wigan Athletic supporters already knew, that this January may be a struggle, with the lack of funds, and that the club may have to raise funds through player sales, in order to bring people in.
There has only been one meeting between these two sides at the New York Stadium, and that was the last meeting between the two sides in 2014. The Latics ran out 2-1 winners after two sensational free-kicks from Jermaine Pennant were enough to see off The Millers. However, this spurred United on to survival, whereas on the other hand, Wigan were relegated to League 1 just over a month later.
United defender Richard Wood has had his red card rescinded after the late penalty he gave away in the defeat in the South Yorkshire Derby at the weekend and Chelsea loanee Izzy Brown is expected to be back in contention for a return to the squad for The Millers. Kirk Broadfoot could also make a return to the squad for the first time this season, as he continues his recovery from his injury layoff.
Latics are still plagued with injury however, as Nick Powell is added to the list, and is expected to miss out over the festive period with a hamstring injury. Luke Burke could make the bench again as he tries to get match fit following his injury. Kyle Knoyle and Reece Burke are all out with injuries, so this may leave Warren Joyce to play players out of position, like he did against Ipswich, shifting Stephen Warnock out to Right-Back, whilst the returning Andy Kellett moved out to Left-Back. There could be returns for Shaun MacDonald and David Perkins may make the squad after he limped off in the defeat of Ipswich Town.
Rotherham United (Expected): Price; Fisher, Wood, Belaid, Mattock; Forde, Adeyemi, Frecklington, Newell; Odemwingie, Ward.
Wigan Athletic (Expected): Jaaskelainen; Warnock, Buxton, Burn, Kellett; Jacobs, MacDonald, Power, Gomez, Wildschut; Grigg.