ROTHERHAM United are poised to be without key midfield man Jamie Lindsay until the final few games of their Championship survival fight as their injury curse strikes again.
The in-form Scot has suffered a pulled hamstring that is expected to sideline him for eight weeks and is said to be “devastated”.
Until limping off early in the victory at Preston North End last weekend, he had been one of the standout performers as the Millers had climbed out of the bottom three.
He becomes Rotherham’s sixth long-term absentee of an injury-plagued campaign.
“He has had a scan and it is bad news,” manager Paul Warne said. “He is seeing a specialist for a bit more advice around the injections he will need. It is a severe hamstring pull.
“I know what he is like. He will tell me on Friday he is fit to play, so we will have to manage him. We don’t want a recurrence of it. I reckon he will be out for at least eight weeks.”
Captain Richard Wood was planning to speak to the 25-year-old this week as the players rally round their teammate.
“Jamie is absolutely devastated,” Warne said. “We’re devastated for him. He’s never had a muscle injury before.”
The manager is relieved that he added to his midfield department during last month’s transfer window, signing Lewis Wing on loan from Middlesbrough.
“We play with four midfielders and had five in January. We brought one in to have six and it looked better but now we are back down to five again,” he said.
“The problem that we highlighted in the window is back. It is good we got one in because if we hadn’t we would be struggling. It is hard for our midfielders with the way we play, I am well aware there will be more injuries and issues ahead. I think Jamie has had an amazing season, so to have him missing for two months is a massive blow.”
The injury is a grade-3c pull, the same as the one Chiedozie Ogbene suffered soon after joining the Millers 18 months ago.
The winger returned in six weeks and Rotherham will be desperately hoping Lindsay manages to come back ahead of schedule in a similar amount of time.
BOSS Paul Warne is hoping Chiedozie Ogbene could return to his Rotherham United squad “in the next few weeks” after tests revealed that the winger’s injured knee doesn’t require a second round of surgery.
The 23-year-old flyer (right) had been close to a first-team comeback late last month, after being out since early October, when his joint suddenly swelled up.
He saw a consultant who reopened the suspect knee and swabs were taken, with the Millers fearing the player might require another operation.
“The tests have come back and there is no infection, which is good,” said Warne, whose team are in Championship action at home to QPR on Saturday.
“Chieo’s pretty pleased. The swelling in his knee has gone down and isn’t painful so everything looks a bit more promising.
“I might be getting ahead of myself but if we can have him back in the squad in the next few weeks that would be great. There is nothing surgical that needs to be done.”
The next step is for Ogbene, restricted to just four appearances this season, to see a rheumatologist — a specialist in joint conditions — for further investigation.
A return-to-training protocol is already in place for the wide man but Warne will take daily advice from the club’s physios and an exact time frame isn’t being put on the attacker’s latest rehabilitation.
The Millers will have goalkeeper Jamal Blackman available for the visit of QPR, who have won four of their last five matches and have prolific striker Charlie Austin in their ranks.
Blackman came out of self-isolation on Tuesday which was too late for him to be considered for selection for that night’s clash with Cardiff City at AESSEAL New York Stadium.
Winger Kieran Sadlier, sidelined since November with ankle trouble, took a step closer to playing again by being named on the bench against the Bluebirds.
He is expected to be among the substitutes again this weekend as the Millers battle against the wintry weather to accelerate his progress.
“His injury has healed but fitness wise he isn’t really ready because, unluckily for him, we haven’t been able to train that much on grass,” Warne said,
“Obviously, training is imperative for him to get his sharpness back. The pitches at the training ground have been flooded or frozen.”
Attacking midfielder Matt Crooks, the scorer of three goals in four league matches last month, has been shortlisted for the Sky Bet Championship January Player of the Month award.
He faces competition from Blackburn Rovers winger Harvey Elliott, Reading defensive midfielder Josh Laurent and Swansea City striker Jamal Lowe.
His citation read: “Crooks’ technique is under-appreciated — witness his low volley against Middlesbrough, one of three January goals he scored bursting from midfield.”
The winner will be announced tomorrow (Friday).
ROTHERHAM United will consider only a striker signing as they ponder whether to add to their ranks by bringing in a free agent.
The transfer window has closed but the Millers, who are fighting for their Championship survival, could still sign a player who isn't attached to another club.
Rotherham are arguably the fittest side in the division and manager Paul Warne says time would be against them if they tried to integrate a new arrival anywhere other than up front.
"If something came in front if me that I thought would really improve us then I would do it," he said. "My only fear is that a lot of free agents have been without a club since the summer.
"We train and play at such an intensity that I just don't think an experienced 32-year-old who hasn't played football for six months would be able to get into the kind of shape that would let him play for us before the end of the season.
"We have got three strikers and sometimes I play with two up so I would look at a striker. Of all the risks, a striker is probably the lesser of them all because you can get an experienced striker in and play him for 20 minutes here, half an hour there.
"The way my midfielders play, if I brought someone in who hadn't played for six months it would be physical suicide; the same with the wing-backs. Realistically, any free-agent signing would be an attacking option."
Meanwhile, Warne has revealed he would be reluctantly prepared to let Freddie Ladapo leave in the summer if Derby County make a second attempt to sign him and the move is something the centre-forward wants to pursue.
The Rams made a deadline-day enquiry about taking the frontman on loan but their approach was quickly rebuffed without news of it even reaching the boss.
"I didn't get told there was interest in Freddie until after the window was shut. I think Derby's call went to the head of recruitment (Rob Scott) and the recruitment team obviously knew I would have no appetite for it.
"Why would I let one of my strikers go to a team around us in the table unless I could replace Freddie with a much better striker?
"I think the head of recruitment spoke to (assistant manager) Richie Barker because I was in a meeting and Richie said I wouldn't go for it.
"It will be some we revisit in the summer if Derby come knocking and it is something Freddie wants to do. It is not something I want to do.
"I have said before about all of my players, once they don't want to be here then I don't force them to stay. If you have just one player in the dressing room who is not happy then you have a problem in the dressing room.
"I don't think I have got that with Freddie. He just wants to play every week."
Ladapo, who has scored five goals in 25 outings this term, started last weekend's 2-1 win at Preston North End but has found himself behind Michael Smith and Matt Crooks in the attacking pecking order.
Warne and his player haven't discussed the Rams' attempt to set up a loan deal ten days ago.
"Me and Freddie get on great," the boss said. "I did have a good chat with him about other things. We didn't talk about Derby but it wasn't like it was the elephant in the room."