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The curious case of Anthony Wordsworth's loan spell at Rotherham

When you make as many signings as Steve Evans has at Rotherham, it's inevitable that not all of them will work out.

But there was something about the arrival of Ipswich midfielder Anthony Wordsworth that didn't quite seem to make sense and as a result its subsequent flop came as little surprise.

The 25-year-old arrived at New York on a five-month loan in August, with the Millers' Championship campaign three games old.

It followed a day after Evans added to his midfield ranks by completing the permanent deal of Richie Smallwood and added further weight to the notion that the boss stacking his squad with quality of quantity.

The most pertinent question upon his arrival was did the Millers really need him?

After all, it's not like they were short of midfield options when Wordsworth joined. 

Smallwood, Paul Green, Ryan Hall, Paul Taylor, Connor Newton, Febian Brandy and John Swift had all already arrived at the club during the summer and joined existing talent Lee Frecklington, Ben Pringle and Rob Milsom.

Nevertheless, Evans was pleased to bring Wordsworth to the club and thought his versatility would be useful.

He said at the time of his signing: He was a lad that we tried to sign on a few occasions last season but on every occasion we got close he was then back in Mick McCarthy’s first team so it never became a reality. 

“The lad will bring a nice balance to our midfield area, he is naturally left-sided with a sweet left peg and can play on the left or centrally should the need arise.

It was important that if I added to the squad that I brought a player in who was with us for some time, and not just a few weeks.”

Despite the scepticism surrounding his move, initial impressions were positive as Wordsworth played his part in the 1-0 win at Millwall 24 hours after he signed on the dotted line.

But at that time of the season, Evans was doing his best impression of the Tinkerman and made changes in each game.

It meant the Ipswich man was never able to get a run in the team, though did manage 90 minutes in games against Bolton, where he scored, and Charlton.

But Frecklington regained his place in Evans' side and Wordsworth was restricted to substitute appearances against Blackburn and Norwich.

So, although he had not been a regular in the team, he had been part of the matchday squad and seemingly in Evans' plans.

And then, all of a sudden, he dropped off the radar completely and only featured in a matchday 18 twice in the last 11 games, being an unused sub on both occasions, though he has been carrying a calf injury in recent weeks.

Unsurprisingly Wordsworth has returned to his parent club at the end of his loan deal and leaves New York having made three starts, three substitute appearances and scored one goal.

While the Millers boss has spoken of his desire to bring back Tom Lawrence and Emmanuel Ledesma after their loan spells ended, he has been noticeably quiet on Wordsworth's future.

It's safe to assume that he won't be coming back, ending one of the most strangest loan deals in recent memory.

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