Boss Paul Warne rushed to the defence of “devastated” Danny Ward after the striker’s double miss in Rotherham United’s Championship defeat at Wolves.
The centre-forward, the subject of several bids in the January transfer window, was twice foiled by goalkeeper Carl Ikeme in the first half on Saturday when he was clean through and the Millers went on to lose 1-0.
Warne, who refused to sell his star man when Huddersfield Town and QPR were among the teams who came calling, saluted the 26-year-old’s bravery and said his leading scorer had nothing to be ashamed of.
“I am full of praise for Wardy,” the caretaker manager said. “He played for weeks with a broken wrist (suffered in a heavy fall at Fulham in December).
“He has had all that contract speculation and through my choice he has stayed at the club. He gives his all to the team every week. Some days it’s your day and some days it isn’t. Unfortunately for Wardy, today wasn’t his.
“In football, you can’t get a better chance than a one-on-one. He is hugely disappointed and I have got to pick him up because he feels like he has let his teammates down, which he hasn’t. He is devastated in there.
The loss - a club-record 28th defeat in a season spanning 46 matches for the Millers - left the division’s bottom club 21 points away from safety, with relegation set to be mathematically confirmed early next month.
Ward failed to add to his 10-goal total at Molineux as Ikeme made 10th-minute and 21st-minute saves and hasn’t scored in his last 11 league matches.
“The first one, I think he tried to nutmeg him,” Warne said. “The second one, I think the first one played on his mind. I don’t think it is a lack of confidence because if you see him in training and before the game he is banging them in.”
Ward could have company up front next Saturday at QPR in the shape of Carlton Morris after Warne confirmed that today’s long-awaited arrival of the Norwich City loan striker won’t be affected by the sacking of Canaries boss Alex Neil.
“Legally they can’t change it,” Rotherham’s interim boss said. “The contract was signed in January.
“I am getting him on Sunday and I will hang on to his ankles. I would take a picture and put it on Twitter but I can’t go on there because of the abuse.
“I am not even sure he exists! I have spoken to him. I have texted him and told him where the hotel is, so I am looking forward to having him next week.”