Preview | Swansea City v Rotherham United
Swansea City return to Championship action against Rotherham this afternoon (3pm) at the commencement of another unrelenting period in the 2020-21 schedule.
Sides in the second tier will play every midweek and weekend from now up until Christmas week, with 27 points on the table during that sequence.
No wonder Swans’ skipper Matt Grimes identified this as a potentially defining part of the season, and Steve Cooper’s side will be keen to build on a fine start to the campaign that has them sixth in the table, just three points off the top of the pile.
The focus for the hosts will be to make sure they produce a performance and turn that into points.
Displays against Brentford and Norwich prior to the international break promised far more than the one point from six they secured, with Cooper keen to see his side show a clinical streak in the final third.
They face a Rotherham side who are 19th in the table, but could easily be a lot higher.
The Millers – back in the Championship under Paul Warne – conceded late equalisers against Birmingham and Huddersfield, and missed a penalty as they let a lead slip against Norwich.
But they head to SA1 buoyed by a 2-1 win over Preston last time out, and no-one will need reminding of what awkward opponents the Millers can be given the close nature of the two meetings between the teams during the 2018-19 season.
Andre Ayew and Marc Guehi are doubts for the Swans after encountering hamstring issues while on international duty.
There is better news on Ben Cabango and Kyle Naughton, however. The pair have recovered from their own hamstring problems and are in contention to feature this afternoon.
George Byers has returned to training after a groin problem but is not ready to feature yet, while Morgan Gibbs-White is around halfway through his recovery from a foot injury.
Steve Cooper: “Over the course of a season you will win, lose and draw games. That is inevitable.
“The biggest challenge is to try and be as consistent as you can, and to do that you have got to be looking forward and being positive.
“You’ve got to look forward, otherwise you just get caught up in stuff that doesn’t affect the next game.
“We’re continuing to do that and we’ll see where it takes us.”
Paul Warne: “The front three are really dangerous and the wing-backs put a lot of work in, they are a possession-based team as they always have been, which is fundamentally how they’ve been playing for many years.
“They have threats all over the pitch, but that is no different to any other Championship team.
“These are the games that the lads should go out and enjoy, so we’ll go there trying to play on the front foot and try to cause them problems.
“They have got quality, but so have we, hopefully we can go down there and put in a good performance on the day.”
Remember the last time?
Swansea City twice came from behind to make it six league victories in a row at the Liberty Stadium in a seven-goal thriller against Rotherham.
The Swans trailed early on to a Michael Ihiekwe header and again at the break as Matt Crooks finished from close range.
Oli McBurnie had levelled after the opener, but the Swans took control as Barrie McKay, McBurnie’s second and a George Byers effort put them 4-2 up.
Captain Will Vaulks smashed home to narrow the visitors’ deficit but the Swans emerged victorious in a remarkable contest.
The result continued Swansea’s best run of home form since the 2007-08 campaign and saw Potter’s men climb to 11th place in the Championship table with four games to play.
1 – Swansea have lost just one of their last 19 home games against Rotherham in all competitions.
7 – Swansea have conceded just seven goals in 11 games this season, only Middlesbrough (five) have conceded fewer in the Championship.
Today we welcome our virtual mascots, Harry Richards and Charlie Power.
Harry turns eight today, so Happy Birthday Harry! He is from Swansea and has three sisters, Amelia, Ivy and Alice. Harry plays football for Gower Galaxy and Swansea City, and his favourite player is Andre Ayew.
Charlie is aged four and also comes from Swansea. He has a baby sister called Eva and his favourite player is Andre Ayew.