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Rotherham v Mainz: 5 things to look out for

Rotherham conclude their pre-season preparations with a hotly-anticipated clash with Bundesliga outfit FSV Mainz on Saturday.

It’s been an impressive seven games of friendlies so far for Steve Evans’ side as they build up towards next weekend’s opener with MK Dons.

Here’s five things to look out for in the clash.

1) Just how good are Mainz?

The German Bundesliga gets a lot of plaudits for the style of attacking football played, the exploits of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in Europe, and cheap tickets for the fans, which results in fanatical followings. But we will get a look first-hand how much strength in depth there is when Mainz come to town. Having finished 11th in the Bundesliga last season it’s clear this will be a test for the Millers, especially as they beat Lazio 3-0 in a friendly earlier this week. Although they have no household names in their side, Yunis Malli is highly-rated and Portugal international Henrique Sereno has just arrived on a free transfer.

2) What of Chris Maguire

Anyone who saw Chris Maguire in his first 45 minutes in a Rotherham shirt against Leicester on Wednesday could tell that he was well behind everyone else on fitness and maybe even carrying a little bit extra around the midriff. Not much of a surprise as he has been training on his own in a park for most of the summer. A good way to avoid the bleep test, but it has left him short of match sharpness with the season just around the corner. With just 90 minutes of friendly action remaining, how will Maguire fare against the Germans? And also where will he play? The former Sheffield Wednesday man seemed under the impression he has been signed as a striker, but he played wide right against the Foxes and looks unlikely to displace Matt Derbyshire in leading the line. That will be an interesting sub-plot as the season goes on.

3) Will there be a new signing on show?

Say it quietly, but amid all the bluster of quality over quantity this season, Rotherham have made 11 signings so far this summer, with hopefully one or two more on the way. Not much less than the 16 of last year’s scattergun approach. The quality has undoubtedly been there, though, so let’s adopt the quantity and quality moniker for Rotherham’s transfer policy this summer. And it may not be over as there could be a new face on show if the Millers get their way as Paul Raynor revealed they hope to get someone through the door before the clash with Mainz.

4) Will we see Lewis Buxton or Joe Mattock?

Arguably Lewis Buxton and Joe Mattock could be first choice to fill the full-back positions when the season gets underway – if they can prove their fitness. Buxton, who could be right-back, might well be the figment of people’s imaginations as he has missed the entire pre-season programme so far with a calf injury. He is back in training and fans could get to see him in the flesh if he makes his bow against the Germans. Mattock definitely is real, but he too is struggling with injury after landing awkwardly during the friendly with Dundee 10 days ago. Saturday might just come too soon for him to feature, which will be a blow for the Millers as his presence will allow Aidy White to push forward in a more attacking role.

Will there be any questions left unanswered?

So, at 5pm on Saturday that will be it, the next time the Millers take the field it will be against MK Dons in the Sky Bet Championship. Although Paul Raynor has said the starting XI for that clash is not decided, several issues seem to be sorted. Kelle Roos will almost certainly be first-choice goalkeeper, Danny Collins will be one of the centre-halves, Richie Smallwood and Grant Ward should be the central midfield pairing and Derbyshire will be the main striker. But some areas are not nailed down. Where will Greg Halford play, who is going to be left-back, which flank is Emmanuel Ledesma best on and who will partner Derbyshire in attack? After 90 minutes against the Germans we should be closer to forming a fuller picture.

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