Midfield prospect Simon Lenighan’s career at Rotherham United could be over before it has even begun.
The Millers have suspended the 21-year-old while they launch a probe after he admitted at Harrogate Magistrates Court on Thursday headbutting one woman and assaulting two others during a drink-fuelled night out last February.
The 6ft 3in former Leeds United youngster joined the club until the end of the season only last week and manager Neil Redfearn had spoken of his first-team potential.
A Millers statement issued yesterday afternoon said: “The club can announce that, following recent reported events in the press and having spoken with the player concerned, it has decided to suspend Simon Lenighan pending an investigation into the matter.
“The club will make a further statement as and when appropriate but will not do so while the matter is under investigation.
“The club hopes to finalise its investigation in a speedy manner and will make further comment as and when appropriate to do so.”
Lenighan pleaded guilty to assault during a night out in Harrogate and was given a 12-month community order, including 150 hours of unpaid work, and told to pay damages to his victims.
It’s possible he could have his contract terminated by a club proud of its community links.
Meanwhile, the Millers face Wolves this afternoon, with young striker Jonson Clarke-Harris, who scored twice in last Saturday’s 3-0 triumph over Bristol City, revealing how much he is enjoying life under Redfearn who has now been in charge for eight matches.
“Yeah, I’m happy at Rotherham,” he said. “My target is to get more and more goals. That’s the only thing I’m thinking about, and having a lovely Christmas with my family. I’ve set a target goal-wise. I won’t tell you because I don’t want to spoil it.
“The change in manager has been proper big for me. He’s come in, he’s helped me, and he’s got the boys really up for a fight. It’s better. Everything is proper better. It’s good now to be at a club where I feel I really belong.
“There are great people around me who make me feel welcome every day, every game. The fans are class all the time. Nobody is really on me too much, but when they are it’s only to make me better.
“The gaffer knows when to be on your case and when to be nice. I need that. I need someone on me to make me better.”
Clarke-Harris, 21, has now scored five goals after being out of the squad at the start of the season and the forward, who joined the Millers from Oldham Athletic in 2014, is confident there is more to come.
“Absolutely I think I belong in the Championship,” he said. “Why would I not think that? When I was brought here, I knew I could play in the Championship.
“With the right people and good coaches around me, who says I can’t go all the way? It’s me who can make that happen.”
His brace against the Robins ended a run of 10 matches without a goal, and he admitted: “I was thinking ‘Aw, I’m not going to score, the gaffer’s going to drop me from the team’.
“But then I got two last week. Confidence is sky high now. Sky high. I can’t wait for this game on Saturday.”