MICHAEL Smith has pledged he won’t keep Rotherham United waiting for his answer on whether he’ll sign a new deal.
Chairman Tony Stewart has offered the 25-goal striker one of the best deals in the club’s history in a bid to hang on to a player who has been fundamental to the Millers’ success since his 2017 arrival.
Smith, whose contract is about to end, says his feelings for Rotherham will stop him dragging his heels as he makes his decision.
Player and club both expect the situation to be resolved one way or the other by the end of next week.
The 30-year-old, who has won three League One promotions during his time at AESSEAL New York Stadium, confirmed to the Advertiser that he has received approaches from other teams.
“There’s been interest but nothing as concrete as what I’ve had from Rotherham,” he said.
“Whatever happens, it will be tied up as quickly as possible. I’ve got too much respect for the manager and the chairman and the club to keep them hanging on.”
Smith knows his next contract will probably be the last major one of his career and finances will play a big part in what he decides.
He and partner Hannah have a young daughter, Poppy, and another child on the way.
“I’m sitting down with my missus,” he said. “I need to talk things through with her. First and foremost, I have my family to think about.”
The Millers will be in the Championship again next season and their promotion has helped them to make the package they have put on the table a substantial one.
Smith has made more than 200 appearances since a free transfer from Bury and this season, which brought 19 league goals and six in cup competitions, has been the most prolific of his career.
Speaking on Tuesday, coach Matt Hamshaw said: “The chairman has made Smudge a really, really good offer. Whether Smudge chooses to take it is down to him. We’d love him to stay.
“He’s not the type of lad to mess us around. We’re not setting an exact deadline on an answer but hopefully we should know in around a week or so.”
Another player nearing the end of his contract is centre-half Michael Ihiekwe who, along with Smith, made the EFL League One Team of the Year.
The 29-year-old Scouser has played more than 180 games after his 2017 arrival from Tranmere Rovers and the Millers hope he will agree a new long-term deal.
“We’ve put an offer to Icky,” Hamshaw said. “It’s down to him and his agent now. He’s been a brilliant servant of the club.
“If we could keep him and Smudge it would be a great bit of business.”
Neither Smith’s or Ihiekwe’s present deals, which expire at the end of June, contain an option of a 12-month extension.
ROTHERHAM United have begun making bids as they look to kick-start a summer of recruitment that could see as many as nine new players join the club.
The Millers know they have to strengthen for their Championship campaign following a third League One promotion in five years and have already started the ball rolling.
“A couple of offers have gone in and there have been a couple of enquiries regarding prices for other players we have targeted,” coach Matt Hamshaw has confirmed.
Although the club are moving quickly, they don’t expect any business to be done until next month.
“We’ve had nothing back yet which is understandable because a lot of people are away on holiday,” Hamshaw said.
Manager Paul Warne expects a busy transfer window and tips “seven, eight, nine” arrivals at AESSEAL New York Stadium.
Rotherham are looking at positions all over the pitch as they look to establish themselves in the second tier after three attempts that have ended in relegation.
“Centre-halves are on our list and we need more options at the top end of the pitch, plus we may well require another midfielder,” Hamshaw said.
“We’re also after a full-back/winger/wing-back on both flanks. It will be important next year that we can change shape when we need to. Players who come in will need to be versatile.”
The Millers are braced for interest from other clubs in key men such as midfielder Ben Wiles and winger Chiedozie Ogbene.
Wiles is under contract and Ogbene is tied to AESSEAL New York Stadium for another year now the club have activated their option to extend his deal by 12 months.
It would take big money to persuade Rotherham to sell either man
“There have been no bids as yet and touch wood it stays that way,” Hamshaw said.
ROTHERHAM United have ruled out an AESSEAL New York return for old boy Izzy Brown.
The attacking midfielder is a free agent following his release by Preston North End.
But the 25-year-old, who had a four-month loan spell at New York in 2016/17, won’t be part of the promoted Millers’ Championship squad next season.
When the Advertiser asked Matt Hamshaw if there was interest in the former Chelsea youngster, the coach simply replied: “No.”
Another Lilywhites player, Tom Barkhuizen, hasn’t been retained at Deepdale and is available. Rotherham are monitoring the situation before deciding whether to act.
“He’s done well for Preston,” Hamshaw said. “He’s a proven Championship player and someone who we might be interested in. But at this moment nothing is happening.”
Blackpool-born Barkhuizen, aged 28, made 199 league appearances in four and a half years for North End, scoring 33 goals.
Brown played 20 times for the Millers in their 2016/17 second-tier relegation season before Chelsea moved him on to Huddersfield Town.
He was close to joining Rotherham last summer after his exit from Stamford Bridge before Preston made a late move for his services.
His year in Lancashire was ruined by a ruptured achilles tendon that sidelined him for the entire campaign.