What next for Josh Kayode and Rotherham United?

Josh KayodeJosh Kayode
Josh Kayode
This is a crucial pre-season for the Millers striker.

STRIKER Josh Kayode will be given a pre-season chance to re-ignite his Rotherham United career as he fights for his future at AESSEAL New York Stadium.

The Republic of Ireland youth international is about to enter the final 12 months of his contract and knows this is a make-or-break time for him with the Millers following an injury-plagued year.

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He played hardly any football last term after being hit by hamstring, knee and thigh injuries, the latter of which required surgery.

Happily, he is fit again and was part of the group that returned to the Millers' Roundwood training base on Monday following the summer break to begin preparations for a second successive season in the Championship.

Manager Matt Taylor, who took the hot-seat in October while Kayode was on loan at MK Dons, is an admirer of the 23-year-old and hopes the centre-forward does enough to force his way into the first-team reckoning.

“It will be a fresh start for him under me,” the boss confirmed.

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The player will be allowed to leave if he finds himself down the pecking order.

“He needs to get more experience, more games under his belt,” Taylor said. “If that's with us, fantastic. It may be he goes out on loan again; whatever it takes to get his career where it needs to be and to have him feeling good about himself again.”

Kayode made 29 appearances and scored twice during the 2021/22 promotion push as Rotherham finished in runners-up spot in the second tier when Paul Warne was in charge.

Hamstring trouble sustained in a pre-season friendly prevented him staking his claim for action at a higher level with the Millers in the following campaign and he moved temporarily to the League One Dons.

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He had made just nine early-season outings when he was laid low by a knee problem and was nearing a comeback when he damaged his thigh in training. An operation followed and he returned to South Yorkshire in February to begin his rehabilitation.

Taylor spent four years in the hot-seat at Exeter City before taking the New York job and twice tried to sign the attacker for the Grecians.

He is calling on Kayode to show the form that made him one of the game's hottest young properties when he first emerged from Rotherham's youth ranks and stood out during an eight-goal, season-long loan at League Two Carlisle United in 2020/21.

“Last season was a nightmare for him,” the manager said. “We supported him through that. Now I want to see a different animal.

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“I want to see the player who I always thought I'd be wanting to work with at some stage.”

The frontman has been working hard on his conditioning and regular sessions at Bannatyne gym in Bramley have seen him bulk up significantly during the close season.

He is aware of the importance of the next few weeks and is determined to give himself the best opportunity of impressing Taylor.

Kayode moved from Ireland to the Millers as a 16-year-old and has represented his country up to under-21 level.