In-form Sheffield Wednesday man has made cheeky vow to spill Derby County secrets

Derby County’s management team don’t have many football secrets when it comes to a couple of members of Sheffield Wednesday’s changing room.
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This Saturday sees the return of a clash between the two sides for the first time since an ill-fated last day of the 2020/21 Championship season saw the Owls relegated at Pride Park.

But it will also stage a reunion of sorts of a different flavour – that of Rotherham United.

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Derby County manager Paul Warne has a history with Wednesday players Michael Ihiekwe and Michael Smith. Pic: Bruce Rollinson.Derby County manager Paul Warne has a history with Wednesday players Michael Ihiekwe and Michael Smith. Pic: Bruce Rollinson.
Derby County manager Paul Warne has a history with Wednesday players Michael Ihiekwe and Michael Smith. Pic: Bruce Rollinson.
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Michael Smith and Michael Ihiekwe left Wednesday’s South Yorkshire rivals for S6 in controversial circumstances back in the summer, leaving behind something of a legacy at the New York Stadium and a long-standing management team led by Paul Warne.

But Warne and that management team have since left Rotherham, too, and will line up in Derby’s dugout this weekend hoping to end Wednesday’s unbeaten league run of seven matches.

On good terms Smith, Ihiekwe and Warne are said to have remained despite a turbulent summer.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Smith told The Star earlier this season on the prospect of a Warne reunion. “When he got the job I dropped him a text and we get on well – I get on really well with all of his staff to be fair.

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“I wish them all the best down there apart from when we play them, obviously. I’m sure it’ll be a good game.

“The thing is, I know them inside out and they know me inside out as well, so I’ll be letting the manager know here if there are things I can pass on, some of the tactics and things they like to do and go about things!”

Warne is well-known to Wednesday supporters after spending six years as a manager in South Yorkshire.

And though the 49-year-old admitted at the time that the ‘Two Mikes’ exodus stung, it appears no hard feelings have been harboured.

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Smith said: “I thoroughly enjoyed my four and a half years at the football club. When the time came to move on, he wished us nothing but the best.

“It says a lot about the man he [Warne] is and the staff he has got there. I spoke to them before I left and they wished me nothing but well.”