Why Paul Warne must perform balancing act with Rotherham United’s recruitment

AT this juncture of the close season two years ago ahead of their last campaign in League One in 2019-20, Rotherham United had already brought in six new players.

Paul Warne.   Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Paul Warne. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Taking away the addition of former Sheffield United keeper Josh Chapman, 19 – earmarked for an initial year with the club’s development side – on Wednesday, the Millers have yet to make a major breakthrough with just over three weeks to go to the start of the new campaign.

By this time next week, manager Paul Warne is hopeful that the situation will have changed somewhat.

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A pragmatic Warne is making contingencies and is bracing himself for inward and outward movement.

As it stands, the Millers chief remains ‘really hopeful’ of bringing in three or four signings by the end of next week.

A deal with one unnamed player has already been agreed and will be signed off early next week, all being well and dependent on a medical.

Elsewhere, the club are also close to signing a midfielder and have made offers for two other players.

Warne, currently with his squad and staff on a pre-season training camp in Budapest, said: “I think I have got one in the building.

“It is just in regards to his medical which is going to be later this week or the start of next week, so I don’t really want to announce that and will keep that under wraps until everything is done.

“I am pretty close on a midfielder and have improved a bid on a defender and on another player. It is a utility player, so I have made an offer on that.

“I am hoping that some of those will fall into place when we come back from Budapest.

“I am really hopeful that by the end of next week, we should have three or four new faces in. But it has been going on this long that, until you get them in the building, you just never know.”

The extent to how many new faces arrive at the club could yet be determined by who goes in the opposite direction.

Matt Crooks remains an active target of Ipswich Town, who have seen two bids turned down so far this summer, while an offer from a Championship club has also been rebuffed.

Michael Smith has been linked with several clubs in the second tier, but as it stands, nothing has moved on, with the Millers chief having warned any suitors that they will not sell the striker for a cut-price ‘derisory’ fee.

The quandary is that unless room for manoeuvre is made regarding freeing up space on the transfer budget, striking all the deals that Warne ideally wants will not be straightforward.

“If someone does not go, it will be more difficult,” admitted Warne.

“It is a bit of balancing books, but in my head, we need four or five if we lose two.

“If we don’t lose two, then we probably need three.

“That is the constant battle and joys of being a football manager. You have to work out what you have got and what might happen and what might not happen. You can only do it on a daily basis. It changes all the time.

“At the moment, I am trying to ‘prep’ for the fact that I might lose one or two of my players. Hopefully, that’s not the case. But I am being realistic and where I move the bids to does pre-empt the fact that I might be getting money in for one or two of mine.”

Meanwhile, young keeper Chapman will provide back-up for first-choice keepers Viktor Johansson and Josh Vickers, having joined on a year’s contract with an option to stay longer.

Goalkeeping coach Andy Warrington added: “Josh is a promising young goalkeeper who has fitted right in with us since joining training over the last few weeks.

“He comes in to add to a goalkeeping department that we are already very happy with and I am sure that he will continue to drive standards in training, but also learn a lot from both Josh and Viktor.”