ROTHERHAM UNITED defender Michael Ihiekwe is aiming to provide the gloss to a fulfilling week by helping the Millers secure a famous derby result at promotion-chasing Sheffield United tomorrow lunch-time.
The Liverpudlian’s contract with the club has been extended until the summer of 2020 after the Millers decided to activate an extension option in his existing deal.
The decision is a reward for Ihiekwe’s upturn in fortunes, with the 26-year-old having earned his place back in the starting line-up the hard way after spending the first half of the season on loan at League One outfit Accrington Stanley.
Having helped relegation-threatened United secure their first league win since New Year’s Day in last weekend’s much-needed 3-2 victory over Blackburn Rovers, Ihiekwe and his team-mates head into tomorrow’s televised encounter at Bramall Lane in renewed heart.
Should the Millers require further encouragement in their Championship survival fight it comes in the shape of their outstanding performance in the reverse fixture on November 24 when only a late leveller from the Blades secured a flattering late point for the visitors in a 2-2 draw.
Even though Chris Wilder’s men will be viewed as big favourites against a Millers side who are seeking their first win in 43 away matches at this level, the status of underdogs is something that their near-neighbours will firmly embrace.
Ihiekwe told The Yorkshire Post: “I feel like when the odds are against us we always seem to do well in those games. As a footballer these are the games you want to be playing in, to be honest, and I am relishing it.
“We know that every time we go on the pitch everyone will give 100 per cent for each other and that is quite rare in teams I have had in the past.
“There was always a player who is doing it for themselves, but in this team everyone is putting a shift in for everyone.
“We might not be the most talented team in this league, but we will work as hard as anyone.”
On his extension, the centre-half, who became a father earlier this year in what has been an eventful 2019 so far, added: “I am very happy. It looked at one point that it might not have happened.
“But it is a bit of security for me especially after just having a little one myself and I would like to think I have worked hard for it.
“But I appreciate the club for doing it at the same time.”