WANTED man Matt Crooks will begin pre-season as a Rotherham United player as interested clubs have yet to come close to matching the Millers’ valuation of their prized midfielder.
The 27-year-old is entering the final year of his contract and a number of teams are keen on luring him away from AESSEAL New York Stadium.
Several Championship sides, including Derby County, Middlesbrough and Peterborough United, are hovering but have yet to make serious moves.
The Advertiser understands that League One side Ipswich Town have submitted an initial bid of around £400,000 which is way, way below what Rotherham consider Crooks to be worth.
“I don’t want to talk about individual clubs because I don’t think it’s right,” Warne said. “I can say, though, that there hasn’t been a bid that has even tempted the chairman to let one of our main assets go.”
Following their relegation from the Championship, the Millers want to keep Crooks but wouldn’t stand in the way of him heading back to the second tier if the price is right.
They would be loath to do business with a fellow League One team like Ipswich who are likely to be one of the sides challenging them for promotion next term.
“We’re not looking to sell any of our players,” Warne said. “We’re not in a position where we need to sell. Why would we want to lose our best players when we want to make a promotion bid?
“We know how hard it is to replace players. We haven’t added to our squad yet because we want to bring in better players than what we’ve got. That can take a bit of time.
“We don’t want to lose our best assets, even more so not to a League One rival. That would make it ridiculous. However, as with everything, there is a figure where it becomes impossible not to let it happen. As far as I am aware, no-one is anywhere near that figure yet.”
Rotherham return to Roundwood today to begin their preparations for their 2021/22 campaign and Warne added: “Crooksy’s still our contracted player. As I stand here at the moment, I’m welcoming him back for pre-season training.”
The player, picked up by the Millers from Northampton Town for around £200,000 in January 2019, could virtually double his wages with a switch to Portman Road.
He’d prefer to stay in the Championship, where his salary would be even higher, after proving his worth at that level last season with his running power and eye for a goal.
Like Crooks, centre-forward Michael Smith, who also has a year left on his deal, has Championship admirers, but so far there have been no bids for the 29-year-old. Both players have rejected Rotherham extension offers.
The Millers would ask in excess of £1 million for Smith and considerably more for Crooks.
Meanwhile, season tickets are set to go on sale shortly, with the club preparing to make an announcement early next week.
ROTHERHAM United will have to up their bid if they want to land St Johnstone defender Shaun Rooney.
The Millers made a £200,000 offer for the right-back around three weeks ago but it was rejected by the Scottish Premier League club who showed little inclination to sell at the time.
However, the St Johnstone stance is believed to have softened and they would be tempted by a figure somewhere around the £300,000 mark.
Cup hero Rooney is in the final year of his contract at McDairmid Park.
Shaun Rooney. Picture: Daily Record
The six-foot-three-inch 24-year-old scored in both finals last season as the Saints lifted the Scottish Cup and Betfred Cup by beating Hibs and Livingstone respectively.
Rooney, born in North Lanarkshire, started out at Queens Park and has also played for Dunfermline Athletic, York City, Queen of the South and Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
Rotherham are in the market for a new right-back as they have only Wes Harding in that position following the decision of Matt Olosunde to reject a new deal at AESSEAL New York Stadium.
They have had success with their recruitment north of the border in recent years, bringing in Will Vaulks from Falkirk and fellow midfielder Jamie Lindsay from Ross County.
Meanwhile, a trialist goalkeeper will be in the Millers’ ranks as they return to Roundwood for pre-season training today.
Manager Paul Warne wants to add a third shot-stopper to his squad, although Viktor Johansson and Josh Vickers are already his confirmed first-team choices.
“I want a third goalkeeper. It will be a training keeper really,” the boss said.
“I’m not looking to bring in anyone above Viktor or Josh.
“It might be a young keeper who has been released by another club. It’s not a top priority at the moment.
“We’ve got a lad who’s been released training with us this week. We’ll see how we go with him.”
THE prospect of a five-figure Covid bill has seen Rotherham United finally scrap their attempts to arrange a pre-season boot camp abroad.
Manager Paul Warne is a big fan of taking his squad to the continent for a gruelling week-long summer training stint ahead of a new campaign.
However, the Millers, who were close to securing a trip to Hungary, have reluctantly decided to stay in this country this year after discovering how much all the required coronavirus tests would cost them.
“We did have an opportunity to go to Budapest and also play a game against a Hungarian team,” Warne said. “However, the Covid testing was coming in at about £11,000.
“Unfortunately, I just don’t think a foreign trip is well advised. £11,000 for testing is a prohibitive figure and I don’t think going through airports and stuff like that is the best idea.
“I did look at going to Holland on a boat. I looked at loads of things.
“We definitely need to get away from Rotherham. We need to get the lads to bond. It’s a necessity for good team spirit.”
The situation has frustrated the boss who likes being able to put his squad through four training sessions a day when they go away together and who prides himself on his team being one of the fittest in their division.
The Millers will now focus on a shorter stay somewhere closer to home and have left a window in their pre-season schedule after the July 10 friendly against local non-league side Parkgate FC.
“We will try to get to a different place in Britain for three days or something,” Warne said. “I’m hoping to get something sorted in the next few days.”