MANAGER Paul Warne has made contact with Grant Ward as the door remains open to a Rotherham United return for the Millers old boy.
A deal that brings the free-agent winger back to AESSEAL New York Stadium is unlikely, but Warne would love to see the 24-year-old in a red-and-white shirt again.
“I did speak to Wardy a few weeks ago, just touching base with him to see where he’s at,” revealed the boss whose League One side are at home to in-form Oxford United on Saturday.
“If he does reach out to me — because I don’t want to hassle him like a stalker — and say he’d consider coming here or wants to have a chat, I’d definitely meet him. 100 per cent.
“Whether I’d have the funds to do anything ... I’d have to ‘green light’ that with the chairman. If it’s something I could do, I would be keen on doing it, yeah.”
Ward spent a season on loan with Rotherham from Spurs in 2015/16 before joining Ipswich Town who released him at the end of last season.
He suffered a cruciate-knee-ligament injury on Boxing Day 2018 and is now approaching the final phases of his rehabilitation.
Rotherham were close to re-signing him in the summer before the player decided at the last minute that he would prefer to keep his options open until he was closer to full fitness.
“I try to stay away from signing players who have been here before,” Warne said. “Grant is a little bit different in that he was very young when he first came here.
“He’s coming through a bad injury, but then a couple of the lads I signed in the summer have been through that as well. He’s now running on the grass.
“He still hasn’t got anything. I wouldn’t be surprised if, when he’s fit, Ipswich re-engage and re-sign him. That’s sort of what I get a feel of.”
After back-to-back league wins over top-four sides, the Millers face an Oxford side who are unbeaten in their last eight outings.
Midfielder Matt Crooks is expected to be fit after illness, but striker Freddie Ladapo is a doubt because of tight hamstrings.
Forward Kyle Vassell, who has suffered a calf injury after being out since late August with hamstring trouble, and centre-half Adam Thompson (leg) remained sidelined.
Left-back Joe Mattock’s quad issue isn’t serious and he will be in the matchday 18.
The U’s arrive at New York in eighth spot while Rotherham are tenth and could thrust themselves into play-off contention if they follow up victories over Coventry City and Blackpool with another triumph.
“Oxford play similarly to Coventry City but have got a bit more experience in their team,” Warne said. “I think it will be a tougher game than Coventry because they have got a bit more maturity and they can play.
“Sometimes when you play an experienced team, they will blindly go with it even if it isn’t working.
“Oxford are on the best run in the division and they’re scoring for fun. Last Saturday, they outplayed Doncaster Rovers from the first whistle to the last and Donny are a good team.
“We’re looking to take the game to them and cause them problems.”
WARNE'S FITNESS UPDATE
Matt Crooks: "He's fine. He didn't train for a couple of days earlier in the week because he was trying to shake off his illness. There's a bit of illness in the camp. I'm expecting him to train today (Thursday)."
Freddie Ladapo: "He's been having treatment all week. He has tight hamstrings. He's done some pitch-work this week but whether Saturday is too soon I honestly don't know. He might be involved in squad training today or tomorrow."
Kyle Vassell: "I don't think he will play a part this weekend. He's had a bit of a setback. He's got an issue with his calf. It's a two-week sort of thing. We have to be uber careful with power athletes like Vass because they can pull things. He's done running this week and I'm expecting him to be involved in group training next week. Then, obviously, we need to get a reserve game into him."
Adam Thompson: "He's still on the last five per cent of his rehab. He's not far off. He can run, he can jump, he can turn, he can strike the ball. However, if he strikes the ball on the volley when he's off the ground he still feels discomfort. We just have to wait a bit. I'm expecting him to rejoin training next week as well."
Joe Mattock: "Joe's good. He's training again."