Rotherham United: Accrington Stanley loan spell 'was making of Michael Ihiekwe'
Rotherham United boss Paul Warne has credited a loan spell at Accrington as the reason for Michael Ihiekwe's impressive development.
Ihiekwe spent time on loan at Stanley, who visit the Millers on Saturday in League One, after struggling to break into Warne's Championship side last term.
He played 24 times for the Lancashire club, impressing hugely, and earned a recall to the Millers in January.
It has been a rapid ascent for the 26-year-old since as he then played his way into Warne's team last season, leading to the club triggering an extension on his deal, before becoming a key man in the side this season and landing a long-term contract.
Warne puts that progression down to the five months he spent working under John Coleman at the Crown Ground.
"In fairness, they played a massive part in Icky's development,” Warne admitted.
“He had a really good first season for us and I've said that on record loads of times.
"He just wasn't in the plans last summer and he struggled a little bit. He went out on loan and we were watching everything he was doing, we kept an eye on him he did well in a really good team and he came back a man in the nicest possible way.
"He's been excellent this season and I'm really pleased with him.”
There will also be a reunion for midfielder Dan Barlaser, who spent the season on loan from Newcastle and racked up 45 appearances in all competitions.
Matt Crooks also spent two years at Stanley between 2014 and 2016.
“Obviously Dan played really well there last year as well,” Warne added.
"Crooksy played there a long time ago, so it isn't in the forefront of my brain but Dan and Icky will be looking forward to this for sure."
Defender Clark Robertson is fit and available after shaking off his groin problem.
The Scot, who missed the best part of a month with the injury, was a substitute in the midweek defeat at Lincoln and Warne has confirmed he will be available.
Richard Wood (hamstring) and Trevor Clarke (ankle) are not fit enough to feature.