Derby-day success helped Rotherham snare Rangers target Morgan

STEVE EVANS has revealed that Rotherham United beat off interest from Rangers and a host of League One clubs to snap up Welsh international Craig Morgan.

The 27-year-old, released by Preston North End last Friday, has signed a short-term deal until January and is in the squad to face York City in tonight’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy first-round tie.

Morgan’s capture is another major coup for the ambitious Millers, who invited the former Peterborough United and Wrexham defender to last Saturday’s derby with Bradford City in an attempt to get him on board amid strong interest from elsewhere.

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Manager Evans said: “There were quite a few clubs in for Craig on Friday. That is why we asked him to Saturday’s game as we thought it would help, which is exactly what it did.

“He described the stadium as ‘awesome’ and he also couldn’t believe the passion that the fans showed against Bradford.

“Even driving up to the ground, he said there was a buzz in the air and that helped make up his mind.

“When you have got teams like Crawley, Bournemouth and Glasgow Rangers in for a player that you want then you need something special.

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“Saturday helped tip things in our favour and that shows how Rotherham are now being perceived by others in football.”

Morgan arrives at the New York Stadium with three promotions to his name.

Two of those came with Peterborough United as Darren Ferguson’s side went from the basement division to the Championship, while he also played a bit-part in Wrexham winning promotion to the third tier in 2003.

Evans added: “Craig wasn’t part of Graham Westley’s plans at Preston and I’d tried to get him in a couple of times on loan but we couldn’t make it happen.

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“He will be a tremendous signing. Darren Ferguson, who is someone I know personally, spent £400,000 on him and he doesn’t do that lightly.

“We now need to get him up to tempo with League Two over the next 10 days.”

On the length of contract to January, Evans added: “We were prepared to do a deal for longer and it got very close. But, in the end, we settled on a deal until January as that will give us time to continue those conversations.”

Evans has included the Welsh international in his squad for tonight’s Trophy tie against the only other Yorkshire club involved in the first round, byes having been handed to Bradford, Doncaster Rovers and Sheffield United.

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Kari Arnason will not feature as he is away on international duty, while Evans also admits there could be another three or four changes to the team that beat Bradford 4-0 on Saturday.

The United manager, though, insists he wants to progress to the next stage.

He said: “It doesn’t matter if we are playing Scrabble or football, Steve Evans and (Millers assistant) Paul Raynor want to win.

“I am not the sort to tell lies and there will be changes. I wouldn’t do that to the fans as I know how hard it is to find money these days.

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“But the team I send out will be one I feel can win the tie. Plus, we want to build on the Bradford win. We weren’t at the top of our game but, on another day, the final score could have been 8-1.

“But, before, I would have taken 1-0 as it was a game both managers had described as a good benchmark. So, it was a good day for us.”

York also go into tonight’s tie in high spirits after back-to-back 3-1 wins over Barnet and Oxford United in League Two.

Saturday’s victory was particularly impressive with Chris Wilder’s side having gone into the visit to Bootham Crescent boasting a maximum nine-point haul from the opening three games.

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The break from League action tonight may prompt manager Gary Mills to make changes with Matty Blair, last season’s goalscoring hero in both Wembley finals, pushing for a recall.

He has had to be content with a place on the bench in York’s opening five fixtures this term after being hampered by injury during pre-season.

In his absence, Ashley Chambers and Michael Coulson have netted three goals apiece from the flank to leave Blair out of the side.

Last six games: Rotherham United DDWLDW, York City WDLDWW.

Last time: Rotherham United 0 York City 0; November 6, 2010; FA Cup.

Referee: R Clark (Northumberland).