ROTHERHAM United manager Steve Evans has scotched talk of an audacious move for free agent Joey Barton – and quipped that the Millers could not afford the petrol costs to bring him north.
The Scot is keen to boost his numbers ahead of the closure of the summer transfer window at 5pm on September 1, with ex-QPR midfielder Barton, 32, being the surprise name linked with the club yesterday.
But Evans says there is no likelihood of that happening, with the demands of Barton – rumoured to be on wages approaching £65,000 a week at Rangers last term – well in excess of what the Millers can afford.
Evans, whose side welcome Norwich City in the Capital One Cup this evening, said: “He’s a fantastic footballer. (But) I don’t think we can afford Joey’s petrol, never mind Joey.
“Our problem would be funding Joey’s Ferrari or whatever he’s driving into Rotherham from wherever he lives.
“I think he’s an outstanding footballer. I think when I saw West Ham linked with him, I thought he’d be signing. But if Joey Barton wants to play for Rotherham United, give me a ring Joey.”
On his quest for new signings, he added: “We have to do some business. It is very, very evidential to us and our staff that we need to get stronger.
“But it’s tough for us. We realise we don’t have the resources of some and that has been proved as recently as the last few days and last week when we thought we were getting a couple of players, but haven’t got the same resources that is elsewhere in this league. But we have to accept that.”
Reports north of the border have also linked the Millers with a £350,000 move for Celtic midfielder Callum McGregor, with the engine room being a priority area in terms of recruitment, according to the Scot.
Evans has made no secret of his admiration of the player and the picture could become clearer when Celtic’s Champions League fate is decided – they are in action in Malmo in the second leg of a qualifier this evening.
Evans said: “He’s a super footballer. My understanding is that Celtic would only ever do any business if it’s permanent.
“I have seen a report and some footage of the (weekend) game and Callum had a good game.”
The Millers are currently propping up the Championship and are without a win in four league matches, but Evans has dispelled talk of a mini-crisis and is confident that results will come if his side cut out individual errors, with the Scot satisfied with many aspects of his side’s recent displays.
While league business is Evans’s overriding concern, a cup fillip against Alex Neil’s Norwich certainly would not go amiss, with the Millers having not reached round three of the competition since 2008.
He added: “There will not be a mini crisis. Whatever happens, Steve Evans will be here.
“I think (some) people don’t quite see that vision here for the football club.
“But that is what my chairman tells me and he’s never ever said a word to me that has not been 100 per cent true to me. We are here for the long haul.”
On tonight’s clash, he added: “For us to progress, we need to be on top of our game with a really good performance and hope Norwich are a yard down.”
Evans has promised changes this evening – but not wholesale ones.
Richie Smallwood and Joe Mattock are doubts, while the Millers’ chief is keeping tight-lipped over whether under-fire goalkeeper Kelle Ross will remain in goal, or if he intends to hand Adam Collin a start.
Last six: Rotherham DLWLDL; Norwich DWWLWD.
Referee: K Wright (Cambridgeshire).
Last time: Rotherham United 1 Norwich City 1; April 25, 2014, Championship.