Rotherham United: Millers boss Neil Redfearn acts fast over Harry Toffolo

Harry Toffolo
Harry Toffolo

New manager Neil Redfearn wasted no time in making Premier League youngster Harry Toffolo his first signing for Rotherham United.

The Millers boss was on the coach on Saturday evening on the way back from his opening match in charge, at Brentford, when he started planning to bring the 20-year-old left-back to AESSEAL New York Stadium.

Neil Redfearn

Neil Redfearn

With Joe Mattock forced off at Griffin Park with a shoulder problem and a Tuesday-night Championship clash with high-flying Reading on the horizon, Redfearn knew he had to act fast, and a month-long loan deal for 20-year-old Toffolo was in place on Sunday.

“We talked about it on Saturday on the way back up,” Redfearn revealed. “I spoke to (chief scout) Gee Evans. With it being left-back, it’s a difficult position to fill. If you’re playing players out of position, it’s not easy.

“Obviously, with Reading having Nick Blackburn, who’s a real threat, out there, it wasn’t something we could just leave to chance.”

Toffolo, an England Under-18, U-19 and U-20 international, played 30 matches on loan at Swindon Town last year, was in the Canaries side which beat Rotherham 2-1 in the Capital One Cup in August and is highly regarded at Carrow Road. He trained with his new teammates yesterday.

Joe Mattock

Joe Mattock

He’s a really talented young boy. He’s had international recognition playing at Norwich. We’re really grateful to them for letting us have him,” Redfearn said,

“He’s a very attack-minded left-back. We’ve got a problem with Joe Mattock. We don’t know how long that’s going to be, so the lad is coming in for a month. He’s not going to let us down.

“It will be a really good experience for him and it’s a real plus for us having someone so talented. The full-back positions are specialist positions. It’s difficult to play a right-footer at left-back. Harry comes in to give us that balance on that side. He’s a good young player with real quality and will give us a little bit more going forward as well. He comes straight into my plans.

He’s here for a month. He’s here to play. He comes in to a good game against Reading in a good set of circumstances in that the lads are up for it. Hopefully, he’ll make a big difference for us. He’ll give us athleticism as well as quality.”

Redfearn has selection issues as, along with Mattock, Lee Frecklington and Joe Newell are ruled out injured, attacker Danny Ward will almost certainly be missing after a back spasm and Richie Smallwood is banned for a game after accumulating five bookings.

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But the new man believes he will learn valuable lessons from the home fixtures against the Royals tonight and Sheffield Wednesday on Friday.

“It’s a big ask in these next two games but afterwards I’ll know a lot more about them and know a lot more about the balance of the squad and where we need to strengthen,” he said.

Reading are second in the table and striker Blackburn has scored nine goals in his last nine outings,

Former Millers manager Steve Evans yesterday replaced Uwe Rosler, sacked after just 11 league games, as boss of Leeds United, the club where Redfearn spent much of last season in charge.

“To build anything, you need stability,” Redfearn said. “It’s frustrating for Uwe because he’ll have had his plans and have been trying to put things in place, as did I last year where you get them to a certain situation and think you can kick on. They do it as they want to do it.

“To be honest, I’m more interested in Rotherham United. This is where I’m at, this is what I’m excited about. We’ve got a lot of good people at this football club who understand the game and want to do well.”