Rotherham boss Steve Evans hoping fit-again striker Danny Ward can hurt Norwich City
- Credit: PA
Rotherham manager Steve Evans is convinced striker Danny Ward can fire the Millers to the victory over Norwich City that they so desperately need.
The Canaries travel to the New York Stadium on Saturday with their own agenda, knowing that anything less than three points will almost certainly mean the end of their automatic promotion hopes.
But Rotherham could seal their survival if they can earn only their second win in eight matches.
The Millers go into the match four points clear of Millwall and five ahead of Wigan, meaning a victory over the Canaries would seal relegation for the two teams below them.
That situation is complicated further by the threat of a three-point deduction hanging over the Millers for fielding an ineligible player in their 1-0 win over Brighton earlier this month – only increasing Rotherham's need for the win further.
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And Evans believes Ward, who has suffered with foot and knee problems since signing from Huddersfield in January, is poised to play a key role.
'I think in the five games he missed he would have made a real difference to us,' the passionate Scottish boss said of the 24-year-old, who has scored three goals in his nine games for the Millers.
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'He's got a big part to play in the games to come.'
One of the reasons for Evans' optimism is the hard work of his Norwich-born fitness coach, Paul Warne, who went on to have a successful Football League career after helping Diss Town win the FA Vase in 1994.
Warne played in almost 300 games as a striker or winger across two spells with the South Yorkshire club before joining its coaching staff when he retired in 2012.
His latest task has been to get Ward fit for the Championship challenge, a task Evans feels has been completed ahead of City's visit on Saturday – which looks set to be played in front of a sold-out crowd at the 12,000-capacity stadium, with City's 2,300 allocation all sold as well.
'He's incredibly fit now compared to where he was when he joined our football club,' Evans added of Ward, speaking to the Sheffield Telegraph.
'He was unfit. He's probably lost close to a stone and a half. In terms of physical fitness, we've got it right.
'I gave Paul Warne an opportunity to work with him and Paul has gone and carried out that plan to a T.'
The Millers are still awaiting news of their fate following a Football League disciplinary panel hearing, after being charged with fielding Derby loanee Farrend Rawson in their Easter Monday win over Brighton before his registration had been completed.
Meanwhile Evans has boosted his forward options further by recalling 20-year-old striker Jonson Clarke-Harris from his loan spell at League One side Doncaster Rovers.
The youngster was signed from Oldham for a club-record fee on the final day of the summer transfer window but after scoring three goals in 13 games has been out on loan at MK Dons and Doncaster, where he managed to score just once in eight games.