Ollie Rathbone and the new-deal time frame, the hope over Grant Hall and boss Matt Taylor on the Rotherham United prospects of Richard Wood, Jamie Lindsay, Wes Harding and Peter Kioso

Ollie RathboneOllie Rathbone
Ollie Rathbone
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ROTHERHAM United have begun negotiations with Ollie Rathbone that they hope will end in the in-form midfielder extending his stay at the club.

The 26-year-old is only midway through the three-year deal he signed when he moved from Rochdale in the summer of 2021.

But such has been his impact that the Millers want to tie him to longer terms as they plan for the future.

While Rathbone is regarded as the prize capture, a couple of other first-teamers with time left on their contracts are also in talks, which are being led by head of recruitment Rob Scott.

“I leave Rob to deal with the relevant players and agents,” manager Matt Taylor said. “There have been initial conversations with two or three.”

Rotherham, who travel to Swansea City on Monday night, aren’t expecting discussions to conclude until the close of their Championship campaign.

“Myself and the chairman have made it clear what sort of players we want to work with,” Taylor said.

“I don’t think anything will happen in the short term. Talks have started and will continue until the end of the season.”

The Millers are keen to avoid a repetition of playing assets like Dan Barlaser — since sold to Middlesbrough — and Chiedozie Ogbene running down their contracts into their final year and losing much of their financial value to the club.

The player negotiations are part of a wider scheme to ensure Rotherham’s prosperity as they look to establish a long-term foothold in the Championship.

“These are plans to keep us where we need to be,” said Taylor who met with chairman Tony Stewart and other members of Rotherham’s hierarchy earlier this month to plot the way forward.

“It’s not just on the pitch in terms of contracts; it’s the training ground, it’s recruitment, it’s the stadium, it’s everything to keep on building the football club.”

Despite playing with a groin complaint, Rathbone turned in yet another outstanding display in the win over Sunderland on Tuesday night that lifted the Millers five points clear of the drop zone.

“I took him off again,” Taylor said. “He must be sick of me asking if he is okay because I am so worried. The way he is, we can’t afford to lose him. But he has had this groin issue in the past and he will have it in the future.”

The boss is pleased the trip to the Swans has been put back 48 hours as it gives the player more recovery time.

“It is a blessing we don’t play Saturday because I am not sure we would have been able to put Ollie out there,” he said. “The extra two days might give him a chance going into Monday.

“We made him captain for a reason. He is a real talisman for us.”


GRANT Hall is facing another spell on the sidelines after his Rotherham United injury jinx struck again this week.

The centre-half suffered his third hamstring problem since November in Tuesday’s 2-0 triumph over Sunderland and had to leave the field in the second half.

He is being assessed at the club’s Roundwood base today and the length of his absence is not yet known

“It’s happened several times to Hally this season,” manager Matt Taylor said. “I hope that he’s not out for a long part of the season. Hopefully it’s only tightness or a slight strain.

“He didn’t hit the deck with a ‘pop’, which can happen with hamstrings. It was an over-stretch at the back post and he felt it straightaway.

“It’s a real shame because he’s worked so hard to give himself the best chance of staying fit. We’ll support him through the next couple of weeks.”

The 31-year came off at AESSEAL New York Stadium holding his head in his hands and was immediately led down the tunnel by a member of the club’s medical staff.

In the build-up to the match, the player had revealed he was ready to talk to the Millers about turning his loan stay into a permanent one.

He is out of contract at parent club Middlesbrough at the end of the campaign and he told the Advertiser he would welcome an approach from Rotherham about a full deal.

“It’s something I would definitely consider if that option did become available,” he said. “I’m up at Boro in the summer and I’ll be on a free.”

Taylor, a central defender himself in his playing days, said: “Grant is a top-quality operator. It’s only his body really that stops him still being a top-level Championship player. When he’s fit, he’s very good.”

Hall was out of the frame from early November to early February when he tore his hamstring and then suffered a repeat tear as he was closing in on a return.

He had been back in the squad for the last five games and had been one of Taylor’s first-choice picks until his latest setback.

Ironically, he would probably have been rested against the Black Cats had another loanee, Bailey Wright, not been ineligible to play against his parent club.

Meanwhile, Taylor says every player will be needed between now and the end of the season but fell short of offering club captain Richard Wood, midfielder Jamie Lindsay, defender Wes Harding and wing-back Peter Kioso — all of whom have found themselves out of the matchday 18 recently — a clear route back to regular action.

Lindsay and Harding came on as substitutes against Sunderland in midweek but Wood and Kioso didn’t make the squad.

The boss prefers to include as many offensive players as possible among his seven subs to give himself more game-changing options.

“I’ve said it time and again: the bench is an area where we’re looking for an attacking input,” he said.