Why Freddie Ladapo was missing for Rotherham United this weekend

Freddie LadapoFreddie Ladapo
Freddie Ladapo
MANAGER Paul Warne had no regrets about dropping centre-forward Freddie Ladapo after Rotherham United tightened their grip on a League One automatic-promotion spot by beating Oxford United.

The boss says he left the 15-goal marksman out of yesterday's squad so he could include January signing Georgie Kelly in a matchday 18 at AESSEAL New York Stadium matchday for the first time.

Ladapo paid the price for lack-lustre showings in his previous three outings, as a starter against Charlton Athletic and then as a substitute against Portsmouth and Burton Albion.

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The second-placed Millers, who could all but mathematically seal a berth in the Championship with a win at Sunderland on Tuesday, lost all three of those games without scoring.

"I just did not select him to be in the squad," Warne said. "I have to pick a team and subs. Other players have not been in the team. I just decided to change it.

"I wanted to bring Georgie into the fold, which is a positive. I am happy with my decision and will stick by it."

It was the manager's choice to leave out Ladapo and there is no suggestion that the record signing, who asked for a transfer in the January window, refused to play.

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The player wasn't spotted at New York as Rotherham fought back from a goal down to beat the U's 2-1 and then went on a lap of appreciation.

"I have not seen him," said Warne after goals from Rarmani Edmonds-Green and Dan Barlaser has brought all three points. "It doesn't mean he isn't here. But I haven't seen him, no."

Ladapo joined Rotherham in the summer of 2019 for £400,000 plus add-ons from Plymouth Argyle, and it would appear his time in South Yorkshire is coming towards an end.

The 29-year-old's contract is about to expire and the Millers have an option to extend it by 12 months if they wish. They may exercise that right and bank on another club being prepared to pay money for him or they could opt to simply release him.

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With Will Grigg, Mickel Miller, Shane Ferguson and Josh Vickers out injured, Warne had 20 fit players from which to select for the Oxford clash.

Ladapo and centre-half Angus MacDonald, available again after a three-match ban, were the ones to miss out and the frontmen among the substitutes, as wing-back Chiedozie Ogbene started up front with Michael Smith, were Kelly and Josh Kayode.

"JJ (Kayode) has done well," Warne said. "I did not want to have any more defenders on the bench - although I think the world of Angus - so I picked two strikers.

"I might pick a different two on Tuesday night and next Saturday (at Gillingham), but they are the two I chose to back up Smudge today."

Ladapo has played 41 times this season and has made than 120 Millers appearances in total.