Rotherham United: New boy Michael Ihiekwe brings winning feeling as Millers say they’re prepared to let Kirk Broadfoot leave

Michael Ihiekwe
Michael Ihiekwe

New boy Michael Ihiekwe is hoping his winning mentality rubs off on his Rotherham United teammates and sparks a League One promotion campaign next season.

The 24-year-old centre-half today signed a two-year deal at New York Stadium to become manager Paul Warne’s first summer signing.

Kirk Broadfoot

Kirk Broadfoot

While the Millers were being relegated from the Championship this season, Ihiekwe was a key man in the Tranmere Rovers side which marched to the National League Play-off Final at Wembley.

“We won a lot of games and it’s a habit,” he said. “Hopefully, I can take this on now.

“I’m buzzing. It’s taken a week or so to sort everything out. Now it’s done, I’m made up and I can’t wait to get the season started.

“It’s a league I’ve looked at from the outside and thought I could do well in, but I’ve never actually played in it. I’ll get that opportunity now and hopefully take it.”

There is no fee involved as the player’s contract with Rovers was due to expire.

Warne has been looking to strengthen his options in the heart of the defence, with Kirk Broadfoot thought to be considering ending his time at the club.

Ihiekwe played more than 100 matches for Tranmere after coming through the ranks at Liverpool FC and Wolves and his last appearance for them came at Wembley as they lost 3-1 to Forest Green to miss out on a place in League Two.

His first season at Prenton Park, in 2014/15, saw Rovers drop out of the Football League, but he has since become one of the most highly regarded central defenders in non-league and fits Warne’s criteria of a young, hungry player keen to prove himself at a higher level.

“To play at Wembley was amazing and I’m looking forward to playing at other stadiums in League One and kicking on,” he added.

“As soon as he (Warne) showed his interest in me, I was eager to come here and speak to him.

“I met with him last week and he just told me about everything and how the club is going forward. To be honest with you, the club sells itself.

“I came here, and I’ve seen the stadium and everything, and he told me his plans. I’m excited to start now.”

Warne is planning further recruitment and among his targets are three strikers and a goalscoring midfielder as he bids to strengthen the Millers before next season.

Meanwhile, Broadfoot will leave with Rotherham’s blessing if he decides his time in South Yorkshire is over.

The centre-half, 32, has a year left on his deal but has been linked with a move back home to Scotland after having his season wrecked by a back injury.

“He’s from Scotland. If he was given an opportunity to go back, it wouldn’t be out of the question for him to take it,” assistant manager Richie Barker said.

“When someone makes a decision that they go back there, it is probably to everyone’s benefit. If someone is not happy, we wouldn’t stand in anyone’s way.”

Broadfoot was restricted to just four matches in the 2016/17 and twice underwent surgery on his troublesome back.

Since being signed by then-manager Steve Evans in 2014, he has played 64 times.

Left-back Joe Mattock this week committed his future to the club by signing on for another two years, while the Millers are still waiting to hear whether out-of-contract centre-half Richard Wood and midfielder Richie Smallwood will accept fresh terms.

At this stage, Rotherham feel Wood is the most likely of the two to stay.

Things you might not know about new signing Michael Ihiekwe