Shane Ferguson and the prospect of him playing for Rotherham United this season

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​​MISSING man Shane Ferguson is working his way towards a Rotherham United return after spending eight months in the shadows.

The Northern Ireland international hasn't played since the Millers sealed their Championship safety last season and has undergone three operations in a bid to remedy a series of hernia issues.

He has been given the green light to increase his training load and the sight of him being put through his paces outdoors at the club's Roundwood base has been a welcome one.

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New boss Leam Richardson will tread carefully with the winger whose last outing came in the 1-0 win home win over Middlesbrough on May 1 when Rotherham clinched their second-tier survival.

“Shane's out on the grass,” the head coach said. “You know the length of time he's had out so we have to take care of him. What you don't want is to have any repeat.

“It's no good him coming back for a game or two and then missing the rest of the season.”Ferguson, aged 32, moved to AESSEAL New York Stadium in July 2021 following his release from Millwall.

He went on to make 45 appearances as Rotherham won League One promotion and Papa Johns Trophy silverware and 37 more last term in the Championship.

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His reward was a 12-month contract in the summer under former manager Matt Taylor even though he had been bothered by hernia trouble since the turn of the year.

The injury-hit Millers are hoping the attacker, a Premier League player with Newcastle United early in his career, can still play a part in this campaign as they bid to climb out of the second tier's drop zone.

Richardson, who has been in the hot-seat for less than a month, needs as many members of his squad as possible at his disposal but has instructed his medical staff not to clear Ferguson for action until they're certain he's ready.

“The pressure is on certain departments to make sure they deliver a player who once he's back stays fit,” the boss said.