Rotherham United: Grant Ward glad to remain a Miller, but door shuts behind Chris Maguire

Grant Ward
Grant Ward
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One was invited to stay and the other politely asked to leave as a Rotherham United door opened and another closed in the transfer window.

There was deadline-day delight as Grant Ward, a player hardly anyone had heard of when he first joined the club in the summer, extended his loan stay to the end of the Championship campaign.

And there was relief as Chris Maguire, a Scottish international touted as a major coup when he was recruited after leaving Sheffield Wednesday, ended his seven-month Millers association by tearing up his contract and dropping into League Two with Oxford United.

There was neither delight nor relief that Greg Halford, Rotherham’s highest earner and surplus to requirements, didn’t find new employers, but that’s for later in this story.

Tottenham Hotspur youngster Ward, with only a short loan spell at Coventry in League One to his name before this year, has been one of the success stories of the Millers’ season, playing 27 times and becoming a fixture in the side after manager Neil Redfearn took over in October.

“Since the gaffer has come in, I’ve started more games,” he said. “That’s important. I’m starting to see the progression in my career which I need at my age.

Greg Halford

Greg Halford

“The fans have been really good to me since I’ve been here. That started in pre-season.

“That’s been massive for me and it’s given me a lot of confidence.”

There had long been a quiet agreement between Spurs and Rotherham that Ward would remain in South Yorkshire after the January 31 expiry of his last deal, but the 21-year-old had caused concern 10 days ago when he revealed he wasn’t certain it was guaranteed to happen.

“It’s taken a bit longer to get done, but I’m very happy to have extended my loan,” Ward added.

Jonson Clarke-Harris

Jonson Clarke-Harris

“I think there are 17 games left, and the aim is to stay up. I can’t see any reason why we can’t do that.”

Redfearn really rates the midfield prospect, saying: “You’ve got to remember this lad’s tender age. He’s come on in leaps and bounds.

“I think you can play Grant anywhere in midfield. He’s got that sort of ability. He’s one of these who deals with the ball in tight situations. He’s got a turn of pace to get away from people and he gets you up the pitch.

“I think he’s growing into this level of football, which is a tough level for young players. He’s developing unbelievably.”

Maguire, now 27, arrived to much fanfare - signing a one-year deal after turning down a new contract with the Owls - as a player who had represented his country and proven himself in the second tier.

Two things never happened.

He wasn’t given the chance to play as a ‘No 10’ he claimed the boss who signed him, Steve Evans, had promised him, and he couldn’t hit the heights expected of a player an established second-tier outfit like Wednesday were prepared to keep.

Three things. He didn’t achieve a level of fitness required by a club scrapping for their Championship survival.

Just as the dynamic Ward has the “legs”, as Redfearn calls it, Maguire hasn’t, and his career at AESSEAL New York Stadium ended after only six league starts with a departure by mutual consent and a perfunctory Millers statement thanking him for his efforts.

A nine-game loan spell with Oxford worked out well and he now has a chance to revive his career in the basement division after joining the U’s’ promotion push for the remainder of the season.

In other business, striker Jonson Clarke-Harris remained with the Millers as they rebuffed interest from fellow Championship side Charlton Athletic and old boy Alex Revell, an early target in the window, went from Cardiff to MK Dons.

There was no Addicks bid of £1.5 million, and Rotherham wanted to keep Clarke-Harris, 21, who has scored six goals this season.

Redfearn would have moved for a central midfielder had the right one suddenly become available but is happy with the work he has done in a window which has seen Shay Facey, Aimen Belaid, Alex Cairns, Luciano Becchio, Chris Burke, Andrew Shinnie and Chris Dawson added to his ranks.

Utility man Halford has a year and a half left on a contract very lucrative by Millers standards and the club were keen to see the exit of a player who has been told he isn’t part of Redfearn’s plans.

No future at Rotherham but seemingly in no rush to go.

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