— Rob Staton (@robstaton) June 22, 2022
It was confirmed by the Rotherham Advertiser earlier this evening that both players were to depart the Millers at the end of their contracts next week, having rejected fresh offers on the table at the New York Stadium.
Quiz: Can you name which club these 27 ex-Sheffield Wednesday players are playing for now?
Instead of securing a move to a fellow second tier club though, the pair will drop back to League One and join forces with Darren Moore at Hillsborough.
Wednesday have already started to make moves in the transfer window, securing the signature of ex-Rotherham midfielder Will Vaulks on a three-year deal.
Now they are set to add 29-year-old centre-back Ihiekwe and target man Smith to their ranks – both of whom played a major part in Rotherham’s promotion campaign in 2021-22.
Ihiekwe appeared 42 times in the third tier last season, scoring three times, whilst Smith was Paul Warne’s talisman, scoring 19 goals, as well as netting 10 of them when the Millers last played Championship football in the 2020-21 campaign.
This is a considerable coup for Wednesday to bring in two proven promotion winners to their team.
Darren Moore knew that more bodies were needed to push the Owls further than they went last season, and it makes it even better for the club that both Ihiekwe and Smith are to arrive on free transfers.
When it’s all said and done, Wednesday are a bigger club than Rotherham despite plying their trade right now at the level below, and that – along with finances – has probably factored into their decisions.
It’s disappointing for Rotherham to lose two important players, but Wednesday supporters will be excited at the fact they’ve been able to raid a local rival for two of their star individuals.