MANAGER Paul Warne is hoping striker Freddie Ladapo performs a U-turn and decides he wants to stay with Rotherham United.
The centre-forward, who submitted a transfer request in January, has hit 15 goals this season in the Millers’ League One promotion push despite being dropped for several games when he went public with his desire to depart.
He will miss a large part of the ten-match run-in after tearing a quad muscle but remains a player Warne would like to keep at the club.
The 29-year-old is out of contract in the summer. Rotherham have an option to extend it by 12 months and will exercise that to prevent him leaving for free and to give themselves time to discuss a new deal.
“I have had many conversations with Freddie and his agent,” said Warne, whose side travel to Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday before a home clash with Lincoln City next Tuesday. “I understand the part of his life he is in means he wants to move clubs.
“If an opportunity arises for him and it suits all parties I won’t stand in his way, and I have told him that.
“But I want to keep him at the club. I like him and I think he has been excellent for us this year. He has been in the best form he has ever been in. I am not trying to force him out.”
Ladapo sustained his injury in last weekend’s MK Dons match and will be sidelined for more than a month.
“If you ask me if he will still be here on August 1 or whenever next season starts, my answer is that I honestly don’t know,” Warne said. “I would be sad to see him leave. It would be a big hole to fill.
“Freddie has put full effort into all the games recently and hasn’t dropped his work rate. He has been brilliant and a real goal threat.”
Ladapo’s strike partner, Michael Smith, is another player who might depart at the end of the campaign as his contract is also coming to an end and he will become a free agent.
Rotherham will do all they can to persuade their targetman that his future still lies at AESSEAL New York Stadium.
“If, in the worst-case scenario, we are to lose Freddie and Smudge this summer, we have a lot of recruiting ahead of us,” Warne said.
The Millers expect young attacker Josh Kayode to recover from a swollen knee in time for the Wycombe clash but new frontman Georgie Kelly, yet to make his debut since his January switch from the League of Ireland, is troubled by a calf issue and unlikely to be in contention.
Rotherham were last night trying to book a place in the Wembley final of the EFL Trophy when they travelled to League Two Hartlepool United for a semi-final tie that kicked off after the Advertiser went to print.
Centre-half Rarmani Edmonds-Green and wing-back Mickel Miller are fit again following hamstring pulls and were set to be named in the squad.
RECORD signing Freddie Ladapo won’t be allowed to leave on the cheap if he does make a Rotherham United exit in the summer.
The Millers paid £400,000 plus add-ons to take the centre-forward from Plymouth Argyle in June 2019.
The hitman, now aged 29, has scored goals in all three of his seasons with the club, bagging 17 in the Covid-shortened League One promotion campaign, nine in last term’s Championship survival fight and 15 this year in the third tier until suffering a severe quad tear.
Rotherham will demand a significant fee if they agree to allow the player to leave.
“Freddie is at a certain age but he still has a certain value,” manager Paul Warne said.
The striker was watched by at least one Championship side last weekend when he played at AESSEAL New York Stadium against MK Dons.
Chairman Tony Stewart has shown himself to be a tough negotiator this season, holding out for an increase in the six-figure amount Wigan Athletic were paying for Curtis Tilt before allowing the centre-half to depart.