ROTHERHAM United this week landed the striker they have been chasing for two years and are now upping their efforts to secure a return for last season’s loan sensation, Dan Barlaser.
Young Leicester City frontman George Hirst, who was the Millers’ number-one attacking target, yesterday arrived in South Yorkshire on a season-long loan.
Manager Paul Warne has wanted the 21-year-old since his days with Sheffield Wednesday when he broke into the Owls first-team squad being a prolific scorer in the reserves and youth set-up.
“We’ve tried to get him in the last three windows,” the boss said. “He caught our eye a couple of years ago playing for Wednesday. We always knew he could score. That was never in question.
“He’s developed really well physically. He’s good in the air, he’s happy to run in behind, he’s happy to help the team out. From our point of view, he’s a perfect fit for us.”
Rotherham, who face Millwall on Saturday in their first home match of the Championship campaign, will now end their interest in Ross County forward Ross Stewart.
But they remain firmly in the hunt for Barlaser if the midfield man’s parent club, Newcastle United, allow him to leave.
“We’re in talks and we would love it to happen,” said Warne. “We’re keeping an eye on everything and are in regular contact with Newcastle.”
New signing George Hirst should be in the squad for Saturday's Millwall match
Hirst, the son of Wednesday legend David, left Hillsborough in 2019 for Belgian side OH Leuven — who have strong ties to Leicester — and then linked up with the Foxes.
He made his Premier League debut against Spurs in July and trains with the first-team squad but has appeared mainly for Leicester Under-21s. He scored on his last outing, in a 2-1 Football League Trophy win at Hull City earlier this month.
Around ten clubs, including some others in the Championship, were keen on him but the Millers managed to seal the deal and have come to an agreement with the Foxes over what percentage of his wages they will pay.
“George went and played abroad before moving to Leicester,” Warne said. “We watched him play abroad. He’s come back to England and we’ve tried to get him throughout the summer.
“It was about trying to negotiate a sensible level of investment from us. Leicester have kindly allowed him to continue his development here.”
Warne still isn’t ruling out a return for another of last term’s loan players, Bristol City winger Hakeeb Adelakun.
“He’s been linked to a few clubs,” the manager said. “It’s something I haven’t shut the door on. I’ve got to sort something else out before I can move that way really. I’d have to get a couple of players out first, I think.”
Meanwhile, reports suggesting Rotherham have made a move for winger Anthony Pilkington, a free agent after leaving Wigan Athletic, are not true.
Warne, number two Richie Barker and coach Matt Hamshaw have all signed new three-year Millers deals.
ROTHERHAM United are ready to start trimming their squad after making seven new signings so far this summer.
Paul Warne expects “two or three” players to leave AESSEAL New York Stadium before the close of the transfer window next month.
New EFL rules restrict Championship clubs to 25 players and the Millers are already around that number.
They signed striker George Hirst yesterday (Wednesday) and hope to secure a return for last year’s loan star, midfielder Dan Barlaser.
“Probably two or three might go,” said manager Paul Warne whose side are back in the second tier after last season’s promotion. “I’ve said from day one that we have to improve the squad.
“I possibly made the mistake the last time we were promoted that we didn’t improve it enough. Because of the squad limit and because I don’t like big squads anyway — they’re difficult to manage — I can see players leaving.
“For us to get two or three in, we’re going to have to lose two or three.
“Against Wycombe Wanderers last week, I had to leave four senior pros behind. They didn’t travel. It isn’t the easiest thing to manage because they all want to play.”
Players who were fit but didn’t make the Wycombe matchday 18 and whose futures might, therefore, be elsewhere include defender Adam Thompson and forward Jamie Proctor.
Telling people they are free to find another club isn’t a part of the job Warne likes but he accepts it has to be done.
“We’re getting close to our limit,” the boss said. “You can’t really have the conversations to push players out until you have got players in.
“If you push them out and the new players don’t come in, you’ve given yourself a right problem. It sounds awful talking about getting a player out, but if they’re not going to play then letting them go is tough love.
“You don’t want them sitting here all season not playing a part and not travelling.”
DEFENDER Clark Robertson will miss this weekend’s clash with Millwall after being ruled out for a fortnight with a quad problem.
The Scot suffered the injury in last Saturday’s win at Wycombe Wanderers.
Fellow centre-half Richard Wood is hoping to be available after being sidelined last week with a sore back.
“Robbo has had a scan on his quad. He’s got a bit of damage in there and some swelling from last Saturday’s game,” manager Paul Warne said. “He looks like a definite miss for a couple of weeks
“I’m hopeful Woody will be okay. He had to come out of training last Thursday. Until he’s doing movement and having contact, we don’t really know if he’ll be fit or not. We’ll have to wait and see how this training week goes.”
Millwall finished eighth in the Championship last season and Warne is braced for a tough game.
“Prior to Covid-19 kicking in, they were the in-form team of the Championship.,” he said. “I was watching in a hotel on a Friday night when they pulled apart Nottingham Forest at the City Ground and won (3-0, March 6).
“They have an unbelievable work ethic. They get narrow when the ball is down one side, they have two up top. They’re a goal threat.
“I think they’ve had a bit of a sea of change since Gary Rowett went in as manager a year ago.”