ROTHERHAM United have instigated contracts talks with a quartet of first-team regulars they are keen to keep at AESSEAL New York Stadium.
The Millers, who aren’t revealing the identity of any of the four, have made offers and the players and their agents are now being given time to consider them.
“I have opened conversations,” said manager Paul Warne. “It’s early in the procedure.
“I’ve gone to them and said I’d like to try to extend your deals and convince you to stay.
“As always in this unbelievable game of poker, their agents are asking for three times more than I’m prepared to give them or can afford to give them.
“I’m hopeful that we can get all four. I also understand that at this moment the lads are a bit cautious and want to earn as much money as they can.
“We have gone to them well in advance. Maybe that can work in our favour and we can get things sorted out.”
Those whose deals are due to expire at the end of the season include wing-back Matt Olosunde, centre-halves Clark Robertson and Richard Wood and midfielder Shaun MacDonald.
Warne said last month that Olosunde was someone he was planning to speak with.
The four who have received approaches may also include players whose contracts run past this summer and who Rotherham particularly want to secure on longer deals.
Meanwhile, the boss says that the Millers will sign a free agent only if they suffer a further spate of injuries in midfield following Jamie Lindsay’s hamstring pull.
“I’d be amazed if anything happened,” he said. “There would have to be a couple more bits of bad news for us for us to look at it seriously. The chairman is as good as gold, but I haven’t had the conversation with him asking him to consider something.
“If we get more injuries than we can deal with then we would look. Jamie’s injury does leave us a bit ‘loose’ in the middle of the park.
“If there are any more injuries in midfield we could get around them by playing someone else as a ‘10’ and dropping Matt Crooks back.”
Winger Chiedozie Ogbene, whose comeback from knee injury was delayed by a setback late last month, is on course to return to training with the main group a week on Monday and could be playing again within a month.
“Chieo’s in a really good place,” Warne said. “The swelling on his knee is down. I think he will be available for selection in mid-March.”
Left-back Joe Mattock, sidelined since early December with an ankle injury, is still confined to indoor workouts.
“He’s running on the anti-gravity treadmill which means he doesn’t have to carry his own body weight,” Warne said. “He’s a good two or three weeks away from being back on the grass again.”
Rotherham are in action at Championship pace-setters Norwich City on Saturday (3pm), three days after last night’s trip to promotion-chasing Bournemouth.
Nottingham Forest visit New York on Tuesday (7.45pm).
MANAGER Paul Warne is setting his Championship squad a survival target of 50-plus points.
The Millers went into last night’s clash at Bournemouth just above the bottom three, having taken 29 points from 27 games.
They had eight victories under their belt before kick-off at the Vitality Stadium and Warne believes it will take a minimum of another seven to give them a chance of staying up.
“You’ve got to try to hit 50 points at least,” he said. “Teams around the bottom of the division are all picking up wins.”
Last season 49 points was the safety mark for fourth-bottom Barnsley while 12 months earlier — when Rotherham were relegated with 40 — 44 was enough to avoid the drop zone.
However, Warne reckons the coronavirus pandemic and no fans in stadiums has changed the picture this term.
“I think that this year there are more points to be had on the road than previously because of the lack of crowds,” he said. “From seventh place to the bottom, there isn’t a great deal of difference in the teams.
“I don’t think, say, 46 points is going to be enough for survival this season. It’s going to have to be in the 50s.”