Rotherham United v Ipswich Town: Two contrasting tales of frustration for Sam Nombe and Freddie Ladapo

THERE are different levels of frustration across football and it is certainly all relative.

Take two players in opposing camps on Tuesday night in Sam Nombe and Freddie Ladapo, for instance.

The 2023-24 campaign has had its issues for the pair in truth, but the latter will be feeling a bit better about things ahead of his first return to the AESSEAL New York Stadium since leaving the Millers in the summer of 2022.

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The stellar form of one-time Sheffield Wednesday striker George Hirst and ex-Barnsley frontman Conor Chaplin has ensured that Ladapo has made just one league start so far this term, with eight others arriving from the bench.

Rotherham United's £1m club record signing Sam Nombe. Picture courtesy of RUFCRotherham United's £1m club record signing Sam Nombe. Picture courtesy of RUFC
Rotherham United's £1m club record signing Sam Nombe. Picture courtesy of RUFC

Ladapo has also had the consolation of finding the net on four occasions in league and cup in a start to the campaign which has been outstanding from a team perspective for Ipswich, who can move within a point of leaders Leicester City if they win their game in hand at Rotherham.

Brought in for a club record seven-figure fee at the end of the summer window, former Exeter City attacker Nombe is awaiting for lift-off in a Millers jersey.

Like with Ladapo, the form of others, most notably Jordan Hugill, is ensuring that Nombe, who turned 25 recently, is having to be patient, having made just two starts in his nine appearances for Rotherham thus far.

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Taylor, who knows all about Nombe from his time in Devon, admits that he has been a ‘little bit unlucky’.

Yet he also acknowledges that a goal would work wonders for him and represent a huge psychological moment in his Millers’ career.

On Nombe, who saw a fellow replacement in Georgie Kelly break his own personal scoring duck from the bench against QPR on Saturday, Taylor commented: "People have to also understand that in Sam's first game, Jordan Hugill scored and has scored a couple of goals since then.

"So he has kind of earnt the right to start in that position. Up until the Norwich game, Jordan hadn't scored, so if you were ever going to make a change, it is when a centre forward is not scoring goals and contributing at the top end of the pitch.

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"Jordan has not gone on a run by any means, but he's put the ball in the back of the net recently. That has probably affected Sam's opportunities as well alongside Jordan's improved body state.

"So Sam has been a little bit unlucky. But he only needs one moment. Similar to what Georgie had at the weekend.

"That might be a 50-50 with a centre half, where he just goes 'wallop' and outruns them or it might be a chance or a defensive set-piece. More than likely - let's be honest - it will be a goal.

"And then he will be where he needs to be with his mental state.

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"We have all got to play our part. With the games he started, we gave him very little service. You look at Southampton when he started that game and he was so lost at the top end of the pitch because the team were struggling so much.

"With the Millwall game as well when we played, the partnership of him and Jordan saw the rest of the team struggle to give him anything to go at, attacking wise."

The Millers suffered at the hands of a former striker in Michael Smith at Hillsborough recently and will be hoping that lightning doesn't strike twice regarding Ladapo, even if he may spend a fair portion of tonight on the bench.

The ex club-record signing was used sparingly at the end of his Millers career after trying to force the club to sell him in the winter window of 2021-22 by handing in a transfer request.

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Rotherham received no suitable offer, so Ladapo stayed put. Despite the club having an additional 12-month option that could have been triggered, they let him go in the summer.

Taylor said: "I have watched him and admired him for a lot (of time). He has got an incredible skills set and physically, he looks outstanding. There's a serious player there. He probably is frustrated not to be getting regular game-time for his club as well.

"But that shows you the strength they (Ipswich) have got at the top end of the pitch. They have got some strong options. You can pick the name of anyone from almost a dozen players in attacking positions.

"I didn't work with him, so can't comment on what he was like around the place.

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"I know there's always 'differences' with players who go to Sheffield Wednesday. But generally, I'd like to think our fans are pretty understanding that football is sometimes a business and players sometimes move on."

Taylor expects Jamie Lindsay to be involved in some capacity against Ipswich - with the Scottish midfielder set to put an end to his nightmare spell on the sidelines since the summer.

The Millers chief will make a decision on Lee Peltier, who has been out for two games with a hamstring issue, on Tuesday morning. Grant Hall (hip) is still out.