MICHAEL Smith’s time at Rotherham United could be coming to a close as Middlesbrough prepare to offer him a chance to stay in the Championship.
The striker is facing League One football next season if he remains at AESSEAL New York Stadium following the Millers’ relegation earlier this month.
But Boro are keen on securing the 29-year-old’s services and are ready to make him one of the three frontmen they intend to sign during the summer.
Former Rotherham boss Neil Warnock, now in charge at the Riverside Stadium, was impressed by Smith’s two displays against his side in 2020/21 and would like to seal a deal as soon as possible.
The veteran manager, looking for eight close-season arrivals in a bid to turn the Teesside outfit into second-tier promotion contenders, didn’t mention the Millers man specifically but said: “I’m optimistic that we can get two or three agreed reasonably quickly, then the rest will take care of themselves after that."
Rotherham assistant boss Richie Barker indicated there is interest in Smith who has been a key man since his free transfer from Bury in January 2018 and has a year left on his contract.
“You have conversations with people in the game all the time,” the number two said. “Smudge’s name crops up as one of those who have had successful Championship seasons.
“That (Middlesbrough) has been talked about for a while, firstly because Smudge has played quite well against them in the last few years and, secondly, with him being from the North East.
“He also scored up at their place when we beat them 3-0. They have a lot of strikers out of contract as well.”
Boro boss Neil Warnock
Rotherham are in a position to hold out for a significant fee for Smith but won’t stand in the way of a player who has been a magnificent servant during his three and a half years in South Yorkshire if their seven-figure valuation is met.
The Millers are looking for eight signings of their own as they chase a third promotion from League One in five years and have their own attacking targets in mind should Smith depart.
Barker said: “In terms of have we had any concrete bids or anyone ringing up and making an offer for him, no. In fairness, I would expect Smudge to be on a lot of people’s lists. It is how high up the list he is and how much they are willing to pay for him, I suppose.”
Boro are set to lose out to Cardiff City in the chase for Luton Town centre-forward James Collins, heightening their desire to land the Rotherham frontman.
Smith has made 156 appearances for the Millers, scored 36 goals and been part of two promotion campaigns.
ROTHERHAM United want prompt answers from defender Matt Olosunde and goalkeeper Josh Vickers on their futures at AESSEAL New York Stadium.
The pair, who are out of contract, have been in talks about new deals ahead of what is expected to be a busy summer of ins and outs at the club.
The management team need to press on with re-shaping the squad and need a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ from Olosunde and Vickers so they can plan accordingly.
Millers assistant manager Richie Barker said: “We are coming to the point where we are going to need answers.
“I know that the season finished only two weeks ago but Matty’s negotiations have been going on for quite a while.
“We are going to soon get to the point — days and weeks rather than months — where we are going to have to move on and find replacements.
“We want a conclusion to it fairly soon.”
The club announced this week that five senior players are to leave when their contracts expire on June 30.
The gaps left by the departures of Billy Jones, Shaun MacDonald, Jamie Proctor, Clark Robertson and Kyle Vassell need filling and manager Paul Warne envisages that around eight new signings in all will be required to shape a squad fit to challenge back down in League One.
Those thoughts were echoed by Barker who also warned that the transfer market was unlikely to get moving until next month.
He said: “What normally happens is that everyone gets on with their work for two weeks and tries to get all their ducks in a row and line up a few players and get to the front of the queue.
“The players then keep their options open, the clubs keep their options open and nothing happens for three weeks.
“Then all of a sudden you get into June and it opens up a little bit.
“It is a matter of just trying to get answers really. If it’s a no, it’s a no. If it’s a yes, then great.
“We need to move on from maybes really but I don’t envisage anything happening in the next week or two.”