Rotherham United's approach as Daniel Ayala gets the move he'd been hoping for
The centre-half had been without a club for nearly five months since leaving Blackburn Rovers at the end of last season and had rejected chances to drop down into the lower leagues.
At the age of 32, the experienced Spaniard felt he still had something to offer at second-tier level and he finally got his wish to prove that when the Millers last week gave him a deal after being granted permission by the EFL to make an emergency signing because of their injury crisis.
“The first thing is, I wanted to stay in the Championship,” said the centre-half who spent seven years with Middlesbrough and won promotion to the Premier League. I'm really happy that Rotherham came in. It's been hard to be without a team and to train on my own. I will give 100 per cent for the team.”
Ayala has been having his first full week of training at Roundwood in the build-up to Saturday's home clash with Queens Park Rangers having been on the bench for last Sunday's derby defeat at Sheffield Wednesday.
The Millers have three centre-halves out of action but know they must tread carefully with a defender so short on match fitness.
“We have to find a way of getting him up to speed while keeping him available,” said manager Matt Taylor. “There's a certain stage in his career that he's at. We've got to use him wisely.”
Rotherham turned to the EFL when winger Andre Green was ruled out for the season by a ruptured Achilles tendon. The second tier's ruling body gave them the go-ahead to add to their squad and they opted for a centre-back rather than another wide player because of the absence of Cameron Humphreys, Tyler Blackett and Grant Hall.
"Daniel has size, stature, quality and leadership attributes," Taylor said. “He also played a lot of Championship football last season for Blackburn (26 matches). He's had a stellar career. Hopefully there's still enough life inside him to make this move viable.”
Ayala, who spent a season in the top flight with Boro, is hoping to be given his first Millers game-time on Saturday when the Hoops come calling at AESSEAL New York Stadium.
That will depend on what Taylor makes of the former Liverpool youngster's physical condition when he watches him in training.
If he does get on the pitch, the defender will be hoping for a better afternoon than the last time he trod the New York turf. “That wasn't a happy day,” he said as he recalled proceedings last January.
Rotherham ran out 4-0 victors against his Blackburn side.