Rotherham United: Michael Ihiekwe makes pledge to push on

Everybody loves a bouncing back story and there are few better than Rotherham defender Michael Ihiekwe's.

Friday, 22nd March 2019, 9:40 pm
Updated Sunday, 24th March 2019, 7:43 pm

The centre-back's Millers career looked like being over after he was sent out on loan to League One Accrington at the start of the season.

Having fallen down the pecking order following the promotion campaign and never playing in the Championship before, you could be excused for thinking his time in South Yorkshire was done.

Ihiekwe went to Stanley and did well, playing 23 times in all competitions and would have been happy to stay there for the rest of the campaign.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But after suffering an injury crisis in January, boss Paul Warne recalled him to the squad, though promised him the opportunity of going back out if the Millers could do some business in the transfer window.

That never happened, leaving the 26-year-old with no other option but to fight for his place in the Rotherham side and it is one he has took on with distinction.

He made his first appearance in the 0-0 draw with Millwall at the start of the season and has not looked back, starting eight games in a row as the Millers fight Championship relegation.

“When I went out on loan, the gaffer told me the door would be open here when I got back,” the central defender said.

“He told me to keep my head down and that's what I did.

“I just wanted to get fit and play every week do that when I returned I was really firing and I could try to force my way into the team.”

It has been quite a rise to prominence for Ihiekwe, who was playing non-league with Tranmere prior to joining the Millers in 2016.

He had never played in the second tier but is acquitting himself well.

“I'm loving the Championship,” he added.

“I've always wanted to play at this level. To drop down at the start of the season was a bit disappointing for me, but I just had to look at it as an opportunity to play.

“I'm pleased with how I've done. I just want to keep pushing. I don't want to settle.”

Meanwhile, Will Vaulks came out on top in the battle of Millers internationals on Sunday.

Vaulks was named on the bench for Wales' Euro 2020 qualifier with Slovakia and came on in a 1-0 win.

On the opposite bench was Millers goalkeeper Marek Rodak.