Rotherham United sign former Middlesbrough and Hull City centre-back in time to face Sheffield Wednesday

Rotherham United have signed defender Danial Ayala in time to play in Sunday’s South Yorkshire derby but manager Matt Taylor admits they will have to be careful about throwing him into it.

The 32-year-old, who had spells with Hull City and Middlesbrough after coming through Liverpool’s academy, has signed a short-term deal and had been registered in time to face Sheffield Wednesday.

But although he played 26 times for Rovers last season, the central defender has not played a minute’s competitive football since.

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The Millers were given special Football League dispensation to add a free agent despite filling all available 25 slots with senior players when they named their squad list in September because their injury crisis was so bad.

They were down to their last two centre-backs on Tuesday in Sean Morrison – who joined as a free agent last season – and Lee Peltier. But Peltier went off with cramp after scoring the opening goal in a 2-0 win over Coventry City, with midfielder Hakeem Odoffin completing the game in his place.

Ayala has solved the problem of numbers, but Taylor is conscious he will have to be careful not to ask too much of him too soon.

"For him to be available to play some part, it depends on his training time up to this point," said the Millers manager before the signing was confirmed. "To put him on the pitch would be... not a risk but we'll have to be sensible with how we use him moving forward let alone on Sunday, especially with such a quick turnaround of games.

"Our eyes will give us more guidance in the next 24/48 hours and then we'll make a decision probably on Sunday morning."