Conor Coventry ... set for a Rotherham United derby debut tomorrow wearing a very special number
The 22-year-old midfielder last week left the Premier League Hammers to come to AESSEAL New York Stadium for the rest of the season.
The Championship Millers had been reluctant to sell playmaker Dan Barlaser to Middlesbrough but sanctioned the deal once the Hammers loanee had come through the door.
“Conor’s arrival allowed us to make Dan’s move happen,” said manager Matt Taylor, who is excited about what the Republic of Ireland youth international will bring to Rotherham’s mission to establish themselves in the second tier.
“He is a technical player, he manoeuvres and manipulates the ball well,” the boss said. “He is a passing player.
“We are playing a certain style at the moment and there is a simplicity to that. He will add quality on the ball.
“Even when we are playing a more direct approach he will play a part in it.
“I want him to go back to West Ham with goals and assists under his belt.
“He has always played behind the ball but will have license to go a little bit higher up the pitch, depending on the play.
“He is also conscientious out of possession. He works hard and he is tough for a small player.”
The Millers aren’t the only team to be admirers of Coventry. His parent club, for whom he has played in the top flight and the Europa Conference League, tied him to a contract extension before sending him up the M1.
Last season saw him out on loan at Championship Peterborough and then League One MK Dons for whom he excelled when they lowered Rotherham’s colours 2-1 at New York in March despite being down to ten men.
“I’m really pleased to get him,” said Taylor.
“He has a point to prove at this level. He’s someone who wants to show what a good player he is.
“He’s been a bit-part player at a Premier League club this season and feels he hasn’t had enough game-time. He is hungry.
Meanwhile, the newcomer isn’t fazed about the challenge of following in the footsteps of one of Rotherham’s most popular players in recent years.
He’s happy to have ‘4’ on his back — the number Barlaser wore with such distinction.
“IT’S great to be here. I had the opportunity to go to other clubs but I had a really good chat with the gaffer and liked what he had to say and what he’s trying to build here.
“He wants me to come in, play my game and show what I can do. I’ll do as much as I can to help the team. I feel ready. I played a lot of games in the second half of last season and I’m hoping I can do that again.
“I want to get on the ball as much as possible. I’ll work hard.
“There’s a good intensity about the group. I could see that as soon as I trained with the lads. Everyone was focused and right at it.”
Coventry holds the record for the most Republic of Ireland under-21s appearances: 28.
Born in Waltham Forest, north-east London, he qualifies for Ireland through his mother’s heritage.
He joined the youth academy of West Ham United at the age of ten.
He was called up to the Republic of Ireland senior squad for the first time in March 2021, for World Cup Qualification matches against Serbia and Luxembourg and a friendly against Qatar, but did not make an appearance.
lAnother new signing, Jordan Hugill, was a familiar face when Coventry first turned up at Rotherham’s Roundwood headquarters. The pair were together at West Ham.