ROTHERHAM United are hoping to bolster their League One promotion push with two new signings in the last few days of the transfer window.
The deadline for deals is 11pm on Monday and manager Paul Warne says “loads of work” is going on behind the scenes to tempt players to the third-placed club.
Both targets are attack-minded and one would come on a full-time deal and the other would be a loan.
The boss says he could accept missing out on them as long as no other members of his squad follow defender Curtis Tilt out of the AESSEAL New York Stadium exit door.
“I have my heart set on two and if I get them, great,” he said. “If I don’t — and I don’t lose anyone — then I am still pleased.”
Striker Freddie Ladapo wants to quit the Millers this month but potential incomings don’t hinge on the 28-year-old’s departure.
Other players would probably have to leave, though, to make way for any new arrivals.
“It is not dependent on Freddie going,” Warne said. “But if I get two in, I’ll have to shuffle. I speak to people all the time and they know my position. We will see what happens.”
Tilt joined Rotherham’s rivals, Wigan Athletic, in a six-figure permanent transfer on Tuesday after three loans spells at the DW Stadium.
The Latics made several bids before one was finally acceptable to Millers chairman Tony Stewart, who paid £100,000 to take the centre-half from Blackpool two years ago and wanted a full return on his investment.
The player, who made only one Rotherham appearance, had been recalled from his most recent loan a fortnight ago but didn’t want to be at New York any longer.
“Tilty’s heart was set on staying there,” Warne said. “He had no intention — and I’m not blaming him for this — of coming back and really fighting for his place.
“Wigan was where he wanted to play. Once a player’s head has been turned that much you’re pushing against a locked door.
“You can’t keep players forever. People might say ‘Curtis is a really good defender’ but so is Michael Ihiekwe and Richard Wood. You can’t play everybody.
“The deal suits everyone. It’s good business for the club and I’m pleased for Curtis. I’ve had no fall-out with him. Hopefully he’ll go on and keep enjoying his football.”
Tilt, who was contracted to the Millers until the summer of 2023, has signed an 18-month deal with the Latics.
Rotherham, who reached the semi-finals of the EFL Trophy on Tuesday by knocking out Cambridge United, travel to Crewe Alexandra in league combat on Saturday before a derby trip to Doncaster Rovers on Tuesday.
CROWD favourite Chiedozie Ogbene says he would be “happy” to extend his stay with Rotherham United and hopes a new deal can be wrapped up in the near future.
Ogbene, who is out of contract at the end of the season, revealed that talks are taking place between the club and his agent.
He has been a huge hit with Millers fans since his arrival in the summer of 2019 and is playing a leading role as a wing-back in the club’s League One promotion charge.
“At the moment, we’re keeping the discussion going,” he said. “They’ve spoken to me and have said they want me to stay. I’m happy to stay here. I’m playing in a team that’s doing so well.”
Rotherham hold an option to extend the 24-year-old’s time at AESSEAL New York Stadium by 12 months but would prefer to come to an agreement on a longer-term stay.
The player doesn’t want negotiations to drag on, saying: “Ideally, I want to get it sorted sooner rather than later. I want to know where my head is at so I’m not pondering come the summer.
“I think my agent and Rob Scott (Millers head of recruitment) are working hard on it.
“I don’t really get involved. The manager has just pulled me a couple of times. My agent deals with it.”
Ogbene has made the Republic of Ireland senior side since joining Rotherham from Brentford and is one of the most feared wide men in League One.
He played a leading role in the club’s rise to the Championship in his first year only for a knee injury that took six months to heal to wreck his chances of making a real impact in the second tier.
This term, he has made 31 appearances and been a star man again as Paul Warne’s team have put themselves firmly in the promotion frame.
“I’m a Rotherham player and I’m dying to see where we are in the league come the end of April,” Ogbene said.
“When we were in the Championship last time I didn’t really get a good crack at it.
“I would like to be there again with the same group with us all giving our best.”
FREDDIE Ladapo could remain a Rotherham United player even if the club receive a late transfer-window bid for their wantaway centre-forward.
So far, there have been no offers for the unsettled hitman who handed in a transfer request at the start of the month and any interested clubs have only five days left to make their move.
There is a real possibility Rotherham would refuse to sell if a bid came in too close to next Monday’s 11pm deadline.
Manager Paul Warne said: “If it gets to the last day, the chairman might make a decision and say: ‘Look, he’s not leaving now because we don’t have time to replace him.’”
The boss isn’t expecting a change in circumstances for Ladapo who cost the Millers a club-record £400,000 plus significant add-ons two and a half years ago.
“I just don’t believe there’s any money in football at the moment because of Covid,” he said.
“Apart from Newcastle United in the Premier League, hardly any money has been spent, so I don’t anticipate the third tier of English football suddenly seeing a big bid for a striker.”
Ladapo’s contract expires in the summer but Rotherham can demand a substantial fee as they have an option to extend it by 12 months.
Warne believes it’s unlikely the club would allow the frontman to leave on loan and says he will be pleased if the 28-year-old is still a member of his promotion-hunting League One squad on February 1.
“His attitude has been spot on in training,” he said. “I have got no issues with the lad at all.”
No offers have been received for any other Millers players, the boss revealed.
Rotherham have held talks with League of Ireland Player of the Year Georgie Kelly but so far haven’t offered the 26-goal hot-shot a deal.
The 25-year-old is a free agent after the expiry of his Bohemians contract.