Rotherham United man in the  African Cup of Nations

Millers defender Semi Ajayi
Millers defender Semi Ajayi

Semi Ajayi might just have earned himself a little space in the Rotherham history books after his antics on international duty.

The Millers defender, who has been a star player this term, was part of the Nigeria squad that qualified for the African Cup of Nations on Saturday, when they drew 1-1 with South Africa in Johannesburg.

He came on as an injury-time substitute for Alex Iwobi, meaning he was on the pitch when the Super Eagles' qualification was confirmed.

So, unless he falls out of favour with his national team or is sold, Ajayi is set to become the first Millers player to feature at the African Cup of Nations in June.

And helpfully for boss Paul Warne, the tournament – traditionally always held early in the new year – has been moved to the summer, so if the Millers can get through the January transfer window without losing Ajayi, they will have him for the entire season.

Whether the Millers' resolve is tested in January remains to be seen, Warne has insisted that the club do not need to sell Ajayi, but the former Arsenal defender's price tag is only going to rise if he continues to be involved with the Nigeria squad.

The 25-year-old believes his game is on the up after being exposed to top players.

"It's really good," Ajayi, who will hope to play a more prominent role in the friendly against Uganda on Tuesday night, said.

"The boys are welcomed me really well and, obviously, there are some top-class players.

"I'm learning through being with them every day and watching them. Nigerians are football mad and the national team is close to everyone's heart.”

Ajayi has been so good so far this season that Warne has been unsure which position to play him.

He started the campaign at centre-back, then went into a sitting midfield role, before injuries saw him head back into defence.

He put in some masterful displays amid an injury crisis, but returned to his midfield berth for the 1-1 draw at Blackburn.

Ajayi considers himself playing out of position when he is in midfield, but is happy to do whatever Paul Warne asks of him.

"I see myself as a centre-half," he added.

"I've played there since I was 15, so that's the best part of 10 years. But I'm happy to do a job wherever I'm asked to.”

Meanwhile, Millers team-mate Kyle Vassell was an unused substitute as Northern Ireland's UEFA Nations League campaign ended in a 2-1 loss to Austria.