ROTHERHAM United will step up their bid to tie players to new contracts as the New Year approaches, manager Paul Warne has confirmed.
Initial contact with some members of the Millers squad whose deals expire in the summer has come to nothing but the boss is expecting more serious talking to start in the run-up to the festive season.
Rotherham have a number of first-teamers, including Michael Smith, Chiedozie Ogbene, Freddie Ladapo, Richard Wood, Jamie Lindsay, Mickel Miller and Viktor Johansson, in the final stages of their contracts.
However, in the case of Republic of Ireland international Ogbene and several other players the club have the option to extend their deals by a further 12 months.
“I’ve had a few preliminary chats,” said Warne, whose promotion-chasing side resume their League One campaign this weekend in third place. “There is nothing yet where the player wants to investigate it any further. We’re only in November so there is no panic.
“Obviously I’d like some players to commit, but between them and their professional assistants (agents) they’re in a position where they don’t want to discuss it yet.
“You can’t force them. It’s like saying you want someone to have two Covid jabs. If they don’t want to, you can talk all day to them but you can’t make them.
“That’s not the way we manage here. We want volunteers, not hostages. I don’t want to put them in a position where they feel that they have to sign. That is definitely not how we run this football club. I presume that between now and Christmas that the conversations might heat up.”
The Millers have a recruitment meeting scheduled for next week when Warne will look to establish firm dates for talks to take place.
“We’ve got options on loads of the players,” he said. “With a few of them, I might take up the options, but ideally I’d like them to sign new, longer contracts.
“It’s not something we need to address this second. It’s not top of our agenda right now.”
Meanwhile, the EFL have announced that next season will kick off on Saturday July 30 — earlier than usual because of the winter 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The Championship will take a three-week break from November 12 to December 10 but League One and League Two teams will continue to play as normal.
THE JANUARY WINDOW
BOSS Paul Warne believes the January transfer window will come and go without any of his main men departing AESSEAL New York Stadium.
There is likely to be interest in some of the players who have put Rotherham United in League One promotion contention this season.
However, the Millers will be in no hurry to sell as they look for a return to the Championship and the £6-million-plus pot that would bring in increased solidarity payments and TV revenue.
“I appreciate that this could change, but I honestly think at this moment that no-one will be leaving in January,” the manager said.
QUARTET READY FOR ACTION
ROTHERHAM United have four players returning to the first-team frame to boost their League One promotion push on Saturday.
The third-placed Millers’ first game back after the international break is at AESSEAL New York Stadium against midtable Cambridge United.
Leading the comeback quartet is midfielder Jamie Lindsay, fit again after seven weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring tear.
Also up for selection are defender Joe Mattock, winger Mickel Miller and midfielder Hakeem Odoffin who have recovered from an achilles injury, a foot issue and a head knock respectively.
“Jamie has trained last week and this week, so that’s great,” manager Paul Warne said.
“Joe joined in on Monday and Tuesday and so did Haks.”
Miller has been struggling with a painful condition called plantar fasciitis but proved his fitness in an intense session with the medical team on Tuesday.
“The physios have given me the green light that he’ll be able to train with the group on Thursday,” Warne said.
The boss has been enthused by the quality he has seen at Roundwood since his squad got down to work on Monday after a weekend off
“I’m not normally over the top, but the training on Tuesday was the best I’ve ever seen,” he said. “Training is only as good as the weakest link. There’s no point putting on pressing drills and everyone is running around but one or two of the players are thinking ‘You know what, this ain’t for me’.
“Obviously, the intensity of the session then drops significantly. It hasn’t been like that. The lads have been brilliant.”
Twenty-one senior pros are expected to train today (Thursday) as the club’s international trio, Chiedozie Ogbene, Shane Ferguson and Josh Kayode, all resume club duties.
Ogbene could have come back on Tuesday after his Sunday starring role in the Republic of Ireland’s 3-0 win over Luxembourg, but Warne told him to delay his flight.
“I let him have an extra day with his family in Ireland,” the boss said. “He doesn’t get a great deal of chance to see them.
“He wouldn’t have done much with us on Tuesday anyway. Now he can come on Thursday feeling fresh and keen for the next challenge.”
Striker Michael Smith has overcome his ankle injury but misses out on Saturday because of a one-match ban.
Millers old boy Alex Revell this week lost his job as manager of League Two Stevenage.