Pope condemns fans over Facebook abuse

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OUT-OF-FAVOUR Rotherham United striker Tom Pope has branded a section of the club's supporters "idiots" for abusing him on social networking site Facebook.

The 25-year-old, who has not started a match since mid-November, says the stick he has received online has been "terrible" and affected his confidence.

He claims a minority of supporters have attacked him on Facebook for four months and accused the Stoke-born player of taking drugs.

Pope told The Star: "It has been terrible. The Facebook messages have really got to me because people have gone out of their way to sit at a computer and write a load of nonsense.

"If people don't like or rate me as a player then that is fair enough. I can deal with that.

"Football is about opinions but when they write certain things about me taking drugs which my mum can read then I think they cross the line.

"They are just daft, stupid comments which some idiots have put online. It is just childish and I don't understand why people would go out of their way to do that.

He added: "It has massively affected my confidence. I try not to let it affect me but it is difficult. Clearly, they are idiots who have had a drink and think it is funny to do it.

"I think the fans have got a right to boo at a game. They pay their money but I don't think it is right to abuse players on Facebook."

Millers boss Ronnie Moore has made Pope available for transfer and is willing to offload the club's joint record signing - as long as he can bring in a replacement.

Speaking last night, Pope said he is prepared to go out on loan in a bid to reignite his stalling career.

He said: "There is a possibility I could go out on loan. Obviously I'm not playing and the fans have grown restless of me. They have been abusing me on Facebook so maybe it is time to go out on loan."

Pope has no complaints with Moore over not being selected in the starting line-up on a regular basis.

"I can't argue with the gaffer over not being in the side because Ryan (Taylor] has been brilliant," he said. "He has always had the ability, it was just the confidence he was missing. He has played well alongside Alfie (Adam Le Fondre] so I haven't had many chances."

Pope is thought to be attracting the interest of Port Vale, who he used to watch when he was growing up, Macclesfield Town and Burton Albion. He insists he has yet to hold talks about a possible switch.

"I am waiting for Ronnie to bring somebody in and get someone else on the books before I can go out on loan," he said. "The lads have been superb and so has the manager even though I haven't been playing.

"Ronnie is a great boss and bloke and you can talk to him about anything but I'm not playing so if the time comes for me to leave then that is something I have got to do."

In 52 appearances at the Don Valley Stadium, Pope has struck six goals. His only goal this season came as a substitute in the 4-1 win at Barnet.

Moore has confirmed Port Vale, Macclesfield and Burton have all approached him over recruiting Pope.

"If I can get another striker in then I will probably let him go," Moore conceded. "Macclesfield have been in for him, Burton have been in for him as well as Port Vale.

"Tom loves Port Vale, he supports them so it would be fantastic for him if he went there."

Moore is hoping to bolster his squad before the January transfer window shuts, saying: "Defensively I could do with another full-back in and probably another wide player with pace. They're the two positions I am looking at."

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