THE form of Players' Player of the Year Joe Mattock could spell the end of the Rotherham United career of rival Ben Purrington.
Purrington is scheduled to rejoin the Millers for pre-season training at the end of this month after spending a year on loan away from AESSEAL New York Stadium and helping Charlton Athletic win promotion to the Championship.
But Mattock has made the left-back berth his own in his four seasons with Rotherham, casting doubt over the future of Purrington in South Yorkshire.
Purrington, who has 12 months left on his deal following a £300,000 switch from Plymouth Argyle in 2017, has already said he would be happy to return to the Addicks.
Other clubs have also noticed the 23-year-old's performances with Charlton and Rotherham may well try to recoup some of the fee they paid to Argyle by letting him go.
“Ben has just had a season where he's played more than 50 games and, understandably, he must be keen to do that again next year,” said Richie Barker, assistant manager of the Millers who are gearing up for an assault on League One promotion following their relegation from the second tier.
“Sometimes you find it very difficult once you've played on a regular basis to come back and be an understudy to someone.
“Unfortunately for him, he is understudy to probably the most consistent left-back in League One. Joe Mattock has just been voted our Players' Player of the Year.
“If Ben played in any other position, he'd come back and probably go straight back in the team.”
Mattock, aged 29, missed only two league matches last term and the club have exercised their option to extend his contract until next summer while they prepare to put a long-term deal on the table.
Rotherham will hold talks with Purrington who spent the first half of last season at AFC Wimbledon before moving in January to the Addicks.
He lost only one league game while he was with Lee Bowyer's side and also scored at Wembley in the 2-1 play-off final win over Sunderland.
“I'd be surprised if there wasn't interest from Charlton in keeping him, bearing in mind the big part he played in helping them to go up,” Barker said.
“It's a conversation that is going to have to take place. It's right that the conversation has been held off until after the play-off final.
“There will be interest in him from more than just Charlton. We have to weigh up what's good for Ben and what's good for Rotherham United. The final conclusion will be something that is right for him and right for us.”
After making only 17 Millers league starts in two and a half seasons, Purrington says he is “100 per cent open” to going back to the Addicks, but Barker insists the final decision will rest with Rotherham.
“If we decide that Ben is going to come back and fight for his place, then that is what he'll do,” he said.
The assistant boss, whose son is part of the Addicks youth set-up, watched the Wembley exploits of Purrington on TV and described the defender as “one of the most popular players” in the Millers squad.
“I must admit, I jumped out of my chair when he scored,” he said. “I was buzzing for Ben. For him to score at Wembley was amazing. I was as delighted as anybody.”
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