Return to form could see Millers light up Wembley

ROTHERHAM United striker Adam Le Fondre has dismissed criticism of the Wembley pitch ahead of this weekend's League Two play-off final.

Since the opening of the 750m stadium three years ago, there have been regular compaints about the state of the pitch.

England captain Rio Ferdinand added his voice to the argument before Monday night's friendly international against Mexico and former Huddersfield Town midfielder Gary Taylor-Fletcher blamed the pitch for a sprained ankle suffered playing for Blackpool in the Championship play-off final.

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Yet Le Fondre, who will be playing at Wembley for the second time in three seasons this weekend, says the pitch is positively 'palatial' compared to Rotherham's field at the Don Valley Stadium.

Initially damaged by a U2 concert last summer, things got steadily worse over the winter months as freezing temperatures forced a series of postponements.

Le Fondre has bagged 30 goals this season but thinks he would have scored even more if the Millers had played on a better pitch.

"People complain about Wembley but it is a palace compared to the Don Valley," he said. "When our home pitch deteriorated this season, we had to go more direct and force defenders into making mistakes higher up the field.

"There was always the chance of a bobble so that's what we had to do – but my game suffered a bit because of the need to take that approach.

"On the Wembley pitch, I am hoping that I will get plenty of opportunities and I am always confident that I will score if I am given the ball in the right areas."

Le Fondre has been linked with a summer move away from the Millers – regardless of the club's success or failure at Wembley – but is determined to stay focused on the job in hand.

Manager Ronnie Moore has slapped a 3m price tag on the 23-year-old who cost just 100,000 from Rochdale less than 12 months ago.

Le Fondre was involved in the League Two play-offs two years running with Rochdale and suffered the agony of defeat in the final against Stockport County in 2008.

He quit Spotland last summer after Dale lost in the semi-finals to Gillingham and, despite watching his former club lift the League Two title this season, says there are no regrets about his move to the Millers.

"I was not playing first-team football regularly enough for my liking at Rochdale and I wanted to be consistently in a team week-in, week-out," he said. "I am delighted that Rochdale won promotion and I'm really happy for the manager Keith Hill.

"It was just one of those situations where I was often being substituted after 60 minutes and dropped the following week. There is no bitterness and it would be fantastic if both Rochdale and Rotherham are in League One next season."

Le Fondre believes victory against Dagenham and Redbridge this weekend would make up for the disappointment he suffered two years ago.

"It was a great occasion but the result was horrendous," he recalled. "I want to put that right this time around.

"Personally I did not have the best of games and I don't think I had a chance to score all afternoon and I was substituted early on in the second half."

After failing to find the net in open play for 11 games, Le Fondre rediscovered his scoring touch in the play-off semi-final with goals in both legs of the victory over Aldershot Town.

"Maybe things have just clicked into place again at the right time," he said. "I am not thinking about my future at this stage. We are just looking forward to playing at Wembley and hopefully winning promotion."