ROTHERHAM United head the chase for Dan Barlaser after making an official bid for the Newcastle United midfielder.
Barlaser was a huge hit on loan with the Millers last season, playing a major part in their League One promotion, and manager Paul Warne would love to see him return to AESSEAL New York Stadium.
The undisclosed offer for the 23-year-old has yet to be accepted or rejected by the Premier League Magpies and talks are continuing.
It is understood that Geordie Barlaser, in the final year of his contract at St James’ Park, is ready to give up on his dream of playing for his home-town club and would be happy to sign for Rotherham.
The Millers are in regular contact with Newcastle and the player’s agent.
There is other interest in Barlaser but, for now at least, Rotherham would be the England youth international’s preferred destination for a permanent move.
Central midfield is one of three areas where Warne, who takes his Championship side to Birmingham City on Saturday, would like to strengthen before the transfer window closes a week on Monday.
He is also in the market for a left-back and a right winger and, with second-tier sides having squad limits of 25 this season, is ready to move on “a couple or three” of his existing players to make room for them.
“We’re only one bad challenge from Joe Mattock being out,” the boss said. “Joe is brilliant for us, a stalwart player, but after him there is only Trevor Clarke.
“Trev has a calf injury and we don’t know yet whether he can play left-back in the Championship. Hopefully he can. Matt Olosunde or Billy Jones could play there but that would be fine for only one game, not a few.
“If I had footballing utopia, I’d sign a centre mid, a left-back and another right winger. If Chieo Ogbene was to leave, get injured or be suspended, we don’t have another natural right winger. Kieran Sadlier and Mickel Miller prefer playing on the left.”
Clarke was due to resume training last Monday but his return was put back.
“He just had a little bit of a twinge the Friday before regrettably,” Warne said.
Curtis Tilt is back with the main group following a lengthy absence after hip surgery while fellow centre-half Clark Robertson is set to rejoin his teammates next Monday after a quad problem.
“Tilty has done well with his rehab,” Warne said, “He’s been away from the group for a long time so it will be good for him to get back into full training.”
The Millers head to the Midlands to face a Blues team that are unbeaten in their opening two Championship games.
“Aitor Karanka’s teams are always really hard to play against,” Warne said. “They don’t concede many goals.
“They’ve got Lucas Jutkiewicz up top and he is a threat on everything. He’s been a bit of a thorn in my side since I became manager. He’s a great targetman who can nick a goal.
“They’ve made some new signings who are settling in. They’re a hard-working team with a lot of experience.”
WARNE COOL OVER OGBENE INTEREST
BOSS Paul Warne is losing no sleep over the prospect of rival Championship clubs making a move for Rotherham United star Chiedozie Ogbene.
The flying winger was a standout performer in last year’s League One promotion campaign and is showing similar form in the Championship.
He has attracted the interest of other second-tier sides but the Millers have him tied to a long-term contract.
“Chieo would leave only because the chairman wants him to leave,” manager Warne said. “I can understand why my best players would get attention.
“It’s not keeping me awake. If he goes it will only be because it benefits the club.
“Potentially, I could lose, say, Ben Wiles or Freddie Ladapo. There’s always a chance you could lose your best players before the transfer window shuts.”
Ogbene has two years left on the deal he signed last summer and Rotherham also have an option to extend it by a further 12 months.
There have been no official bids so far and it would take a substantial offer to tempt the Millers into parting company
“We don’t need to sell but if a player’s head has been turned a good bid can be difficult to turn down,” Warne said.
“The Chieos of this world are always going to attract attention because they are the ones who catch the eye.”
Warne expects some of his existing squad to leave before the window closes on October 5.
“I’ve had conversations with a couple or three. I will keep their names private,” he said.
“If you’re a professional footballer you have to be pretty mentally resilient. There is more bad news than good news for most players really.
“The ones we sign are definitely resilient. When you have a chat with them they always think they can prove you wrong. They’re entitled to think that; in fact, they need that kind of mental strength.
“But after two or three games where they don’t get in the squad they start thinking: ‘Hang on a second.’ Their outlook changes then.
“The window is still open. I’d still like to strengthen in a couple of positions and that will depend on whether I can make room for them. I can see two or three going.”
Striker Jamie Proctor is one of the players Warne has talked to.
Youngsters Joshua Kayode, Jake Cooper and Jake Hull have gone out on loan to Carlisle United, Gateshead and Matlock Town respectively but don’t count towards the 25-man squad quota because they have come through Rotherham’s youth ranks.
MILLERS ESCAPE REFUND HEADACHE
ROTHERHAM United have avoided the need to issue season-ticket refunds after the Government this week dashed fans’ hopes of an October return to football stadiums.
Supporters were expected to be allowed back into grounds in limited numbers early next month but, following a sharp rise in the number of coronavirus cases, that scheme has now been put on indefinite hold.
Some clubs have been selling season tickets and now face the prospect of giving back the money .
However, the Millers went down a different route by offering a £25 flexi ticket — designed to provide discounted admission and give priority access to AESSEAL New York Stadium when it opens its doors again.
The club still hope supporters will return at some stage this season and be able to take advantage of the flexi-ticket benefits.
More than 3,000 Rotherham fans have bought them so far.
Manager Paul Warne, whose own family have been prevented by Covid-19 from attending matches, told the Advertiser of his disappointment at the Government ruling.
“It’s really sad,” he said. “Going to football matches is a huge part of people’s lives. Saturday to a lot of people means a lot of things.
“It’s about the whole day: getting up and thinking ‘Brilliant, it’s a matchday’ and travelling to the game with your mates or your family.
“When I talk about the fans, I’m talking about my own family and my own friends. My wife and kids came to almost every game pre-Covid and they really liked it. It’s not just unknown faces to me, my players and my staff, it’s our own loved ones.
“This might sound naive but last Saturday against Millwall I believe we would have won if our fans had been inside the stadium. Shooting towards the North Stand, we’re unbelievable. The fans would have sucked a goal in.
“Some never miss a game, home or away. Some had done around 1,000 matches on the trot. It takes 20 years to build up that kind of record.”
There are fears clubs struggling without matchday income could go to the wall unless they receive outside help.
Rotherham are in safe hands under Tony Stewart and last season’s promotion has thrown them a lifeline.
The chairman said earlier this month: “Going up has been a saviour really. Financially, we’re better off playing in the Championship with no crowd than we would be playing in League One with a full crowd.”