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Preston v Rotherham: Four things to look out for

Rotherham begin 2016 with a trip to Preston as they aim to try and stay out of the Sky Bet Championship relegation zone.

They ended 2015 poorly at Fulham and have injury concerns for the visit to Deepdale but they have to try and take some points from those teams around them.

Here is four things to look out for in the game.

Who is going to play right-back?

With Frazer Richardson ruled out due to a concussion suffered at Fulham and Lewis Buxton still stuck in a contract dispute, the Millers are down to Stephen Kelly as their only recognised right-back. Unfortunately there is still a huge question mark hanging over the Irishman's fitness and he looks unlikely to play. Boss Neil Redfearn is usually a straight shooter, but when he says one of his players is a doubt, it usually means he won't play, especially in Kelly's case as they are so keen to protect the injury from becoming long time. So that leaves them short of options. Kirk Broadfoot might have to provide cover there, but Redfearn would be loathe to move him out a central position, so Richard Wood might be another option. Paul Green came on and settled in at right-back at Craven Cottage on Tuesday, but it would be a risk to play him there for 90 minutes. If anything, this problem highlights the need for reinforcements this month.

Bouncing back

All too often this season the Millers have gone on losing runs that have stretched to three or four games, but they cannot allow that to happen again. Having being beaten at Fulham they have to try and stop the rot and get the points tally ticking over again. After clawing themselves out of the relegation zone at the back end of last year, they need to make their lives as easy as possible for themselves by staying out! As identified in our New Year resolutions piece, that can be done by developing an ability to draw more games when they are unable to win them. This trip over the Pennines might be one such game where they have to do that.

Breaking Preston's mean defence

We have to be honest - the stats don't look too good here. The nine goals Preston have conceded on home soil is the lowest in the division and their measly defence has seen them beat the likes of Hull and draw with Middlesbrough. On top of that, the Millers have hardly found their mojo on the road and have scored just two goals in their last six away games. Not the recipe for a high-scoring thriller, then! Somehow, Redfearn's men have to discover a way to become more threatening on the road and Danny Ward's emergence as a lone striker could still be the key to that.

Back the draw?

The caveat to Preston's stingy defence and Rotherham's misfiring attack is that Simon Grayson's men don't exactly rack up the goals either. In fact, the nine goals they have scored on home soil is also the worst in the division, with no team scoring less in front of their own fans. They have never scored more than one in a game and have drawn a blank three times. All of this is pointing to the smart money being on the game ending in a draw. Preston have been held six times at home this season, with three of them goalless bore draws. Much will depend on Rotherham's ability to keep a clean sheet of course, which is by no means a given, but odds of 8/1 on a 0-0 draw look quite tempting.

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