Derby issue for the defender who left Rotherham United on bad terms

The old boy who parted company with Rotherham United in controversial circumstances is a concern for derby rivals Sheffield Wednesday in the build-up to his first return to AESSEAL New York Stadium.

Centre-half Michael Ihiekwe made an acrimonious departure in the summer of 2022 when he moved to Hillsborough after the Millers thought they had struck a deal for him to extend his stay at the club.

The two drop-zone teams clash at New York this weekend and the defender faces a late fitness check on an unspecified injury.

The 31-year-old has been a key figure in a back three in the Owls' recent resurgence which has seen them win three of their last four matches to boost their Championship survival hopes.

Their German boss, Danny Rohl, said today: “We will make a test for him. Hopefully tomorrow he is back into training and he is available for the game.”

Wednesday are keen to have Ihiekwe among their numbers as fellow defender Di'Shon Bernard is suspended.

The Liverpudlian is one of several former Millers who could face their old club on Saturday.

Midfielder Will Vaulks is set for a first New York outing in opposition colours in front of a crowd after his game there with Cardiff City in 2021 was played in front of empty seats due to the Covid pandemic.

Striker Michael Smith, who made the switch across the Parkway at the same time as Ihiekwe, is back on familiar turf but has been out of the matchday 11 since the turn of the year and is likely to have to settle for a place on the bench.

Full-back Reece James spent a short time on loan in S60 during the early stages of his career when he was a youngster at Manchester United.