Freddie Ladapo states case for leading Rotherham United line

In their first Championship game after a 13-day lay-off for Covid-19, Rotherham United just had to throw together whatever team they could, but the performance of Freddie Ladapo made a strong case for a switch to a front two to be more lasting.

On the ball: Freddie Ladapo and Nathaniel Chalobah challenge for possession. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

The Millers had hit on a good formula before the outbreak, the success of their 3-5-1-1 formation highlighted when Matt Crooks, operating behind the striker, was named Championship player of the month for January.

The man ahead of him, Michael Smith, scored six goals in nine appearances either side of the new year, and scored at Sheffield Wednesday in the final match before the virus struck the camp.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But Ladapo was finally able to follow up his stoppage-time winner from the bench that night with an excellent long-range goal in Tuesday’s 4-1 defeat to Watford, where Smith won a penalty but saw it saved.

Rotherham assistant manager Richie Barker, a former striker himself, was keen to encourage the 28-year-old after only his fourth start since early December.

“If he carries on scoring goals and shows the correct work ethic, there is a place for him,” said Barker of Ladapo. “Places are up for grabs for all the players. There’s going to be so many games in such a short period of time that everyone is going to get minutes.

“I thought George (Hirst, who came off the bench) did well and if Smudge (Smith) had scored his penalty he would have been touching double figures (he has eight goals this season), which is a good achievement for a centre-forward playing for a bottom-six team in the Championship.”

Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you’ll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click HERE to subscribe.