Doncaster Rovers boss explains why Fejiri Okenabirhie chose Cambridge United move

Doncaster Rovers could not compete with the offer of League One football on the table for Fejiri Okenabirhie.

Wednesday, 3rd August 2022, 6:00 am

That was Gary McSheffrey's verdict after the striker signed a one-year contract with Cambridge United.

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Rovers boss McSheffrey said: “We love him, we rated him, we liked him but we needed to see him play to see if he could bounce back.

Fejiri Okenabirhie (right) in action for Doncaster at Blackpool in May 2021. Photo: Dave Howarth/CameraSport.

"The League One status was a big thing and he’d been in communication with them for most of the summer.

"They always wanted him but they agreed to let him get fit here because that’s what he wanted to do.”

Rovers had offered Okenabirhie the chance to prove his fitness with a view to earning a new contract after spending more than a year on the sidelines injured.

But a hamstring issue upon his return to training kept him out of the club's pre-season friendlies.

He informed them of his decision to leave last Wednesday.

“We’re disappointed to lose him because he’s probably that natural finisher we’re missing,” McSheffrey added.

"Ultimately, it was out of our hands. We couldn’t renew his contract in the summer on the back of him being out for a year.

"If it was League One, he was going to go anyway. If it was League Two, we were in the driving seat.

“We wish him well, he’s a great lad and very respectful. I’ll keep in touch with him and hope he has a great career.”

Okenabirhie was Doncaster’s top-scorer in the 2020/21 campaign with 11 goals in 39 League One games.

But an Achilles tendon problem saw him miss the entire 2021/22 season and he was subsequently released.

Cambridge boss Mark Bonner confirmed 26-year-old Okenabirhie is still not match fit.

He said: “Recovering from such a long time out can take time, and we are aware that Fejiri won’t be game ready for a little while.

“However, if we can help him return to his physical best and gradually increase his training load, we know we have a player who will make a good impression.

“We will be patient as we prepare him to be ready to a return to playing and think he will be a strong signing for us as he fits the bill perfectly for ability, athleticism and character to adjust to our environment quickly.”