Paul Warne explains why Semi Ajayi might have had two standing ovations last weekend

Semi Ajayi’s brilliant performance in Rotherham’s 1-0 win over Millwall on Sunday was not the only reason he received a standing ovation in recent days.

Ajayi has emerged as an answer to Paul Warne’s midfield headache as he has stepped into the sitting role and shown to himself to have all the attributes to thrive there.

His faultless display against the Lions capped a perfect weekend for the 24-year-old, who received his first call-up to the Nigeria squad on Friday.

Ajayi, who featured for his country at youth level, has been named in the Super Eagles’ squad for their African Nations qualifier against Seychelles next month.

When news of Ajayi’s call-up broke over the weekend, it is little surprise that boss Paul Warne laid on the special treatment for him.

“I am really pleased for him. We found out on Friday,” Warne revealed.

“We did a meeting on Saturday about being the best you can be and everyone gave Semi a standing ovation for his call-up.

“I bet he is really devastated, because his first game is Seychelles away! There is a lot of sympathy for him, going from this Yorkshire weather to the Seychelles.

“We are really pleased for him, we had the letter today, I printed it off and gave it him before the game.

“It might give him a right boost going forward, as long as he doesn’t get injured out there.

“He should be really proud and the fact that we have got an international player here it shows we must be doing something right.

“I always bang his drum and if he can keep error-free and keep performing then he has got a great future ahead of him.”

The biggest question Nigeria manager Gernot Rohr might have to answer is whether Ajayi is deployed in midfield or central defence.

Ajayi put in an inspired display in the midfield role on Sunday, which has drawn comparisons to Patrick Viera.

While that might be a little premature, Warne thinks that he is suited to that position.

“Semi was a joke today,” he said of his performance against Millwall. “He could play anywhere for me.

“He could play up front, on the wing or full-back. I know you might think I’m a bit crazy, but I could do with signing a few more Semi Ajayis.

“He is everywhere for me at the moment. I like him there, he looks more confident and he does cover the ground for us and gives us protective cover.

“He looked like he enjoyed it. Being a centre-half if you make an error it’s a goal.

“If you’re a centre-mid and you make an error and concede a goal you can blame the two centre-halves behind you. It does give he a bit of freedom.”



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