ROTHERHAM United have switched their attention to a fourth centre-half target after their attempts to strengthen their backline were thwarted yet again this week.
The Millers, who are at home to Lincoln City in League One on Saturday, missed out for the third time in their push to bring in a central defender.
But manager Paul Warne immediately set his sights on a different player and believes a deal could be wrapped up in the next few days.
“The bid for the third centre-half, that's a 'no',” the boss confirmed. “Our centre-half hunt has hit a brick wall. We've made bids for three players and had three 'nos'. The last one, I found out about it on Wednesday.
Warne wants a stopper with pace and added: “We have another target. I have a target I can get on a free. I wasn't aware of his availability at the start of the summer.
“There is a realistic chance of this happening. If it's agreeable with everyone at the club, I don't see why it couldn't be tied up in the next 72 hours.
“People who work at the club will hopefully get it to a position where me and the chairman sit down and say: 'This is what it's going to cost us. Do we agree?' It always takes longer than you think.”
After having offers for Blackpool's Curtis Tilt and Leyton Orient's Marvin Ekpiteta rejected, Rotherham had their hopes dashed again when target number three opted to join another club. “He's going on loan at a higher level,” Warne said. “That's a blow.”
The Millers have multiple injury concerns ahead of the Lincoln clash, which sees a first competitive return to AESSEAL New York Stadium for club legend Lee Frecklington.
Striker Kyle Vassell and left-back Joe Mattock have rib issues, right-back Matt Olosunde is troubled by a back problem and midfielder Dan Barlaser took a kick on the ankle in the midweek EFL Trophy match against Manchester United Under-21s.
“I've been led to believe that they might all be all right,” Warne said. “One of them might train today.
“Joe is having to take pain-killers. If he runs and his lungs expand, obviously he's going to feel even more pain. Matty's back is bad, Dan's ankle is snookered.”
Right-back Billy Jones remains sidelined by his heel complaint while left-back Trevor Clarke is in the early stages of his rehabilitation after damaging his knee.
Thursday was Championship transfer deadline day and Warne wasn't expecting to lose any of his players to second-tier sides.
The manager and Frecklington, who may be in the Imps squad after recovering from groin surgery, have stayed in touched since the midfielder moved to his home-town club in January 2018.
“I went and watched Lincoln play Stoke City in pre-season and I was sitting there talking to him,” Warne said.
“He told me about his injury and how it was earmarked that Rotherham would be the first game he would be available for.
“Whether their manager would put him on as a romantic gesture, you don't know, do you?
“I would be tempted to if that was me because I'd definitely want Frecks in the dressing room.
“He would gee up the rest of the lads. I think he will be involved in the matchday squad, but whether he is in the 18 I don't know.
“We were pretty close. He was similar to me in that he gave everything physically. I spent a lot of time with him when I was fitness coach
“I always like old players to come back and get a decent ovation for what they did. Frecks should 100 per cent get everyone's respect.”
The Millers have given a trial to 20-year-old former Manchester United youth-team winger Zak Dearnley and intend to make a decision on his future by the weekend.
Warne’s men visit Shrewsbury Town on Tuesday (kick-off 7.45pm) in the first round of the Carabao Cup.
We want to continue holding local authorities to account, attending court and council meetings, as well as providing breaking news, competitions and offers – but it costs money. Online advertising does not cover costs, therefore we feel the need to ask for your help in ensuring we can provide the best possible coverage, online and in our printed products.
For as little as £1, you can support the Rotherham Advertiser – and it only takes a minute.
Click here to support local news.