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Paul Warne issues update on Rotherham pair linked with Sheffield Wednesday

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Rotherham United boss Paul Warne is confident that at least one of Michael Ihiekwe and Michael Smith will remain at the club this summer amid interest from Sheffield Wednesday and other clubs.

The pair were central figures as the Millers finished second in League One in 2021/22 to bounce straight back up to the Championship but both are out of contract.

New deals have been offered to Ihiekwe and Smith by Rotherham but there are other clubs thought to be interested.

Wednesday have been linked with both the centre-back and the striker, while Derby County are said to be keen on the former.

With the start of the 2022/23 Championship season drawing closer, Warne has provided an update on the in-demand pair and revealed his stance on the situation.

Speaking on the BBC Moment of Truth podcast, the Millers boss said: “In regards to [Smith] and [Ihiekwe], I know they’re well thought of at our football club.

“We’ve done everything we can with the chairman’s support to try and keep them. I’m pretty confident of keeping one or both.

“I could’ve gone down a different route. I might get criticised for it but I could’ve literally said to them ‘It’s now or never. You ever sign it or we part company’ but I have a real tight relationship with both players and I understand their quandary.

“They’re at an age where this is their last big contract. They want to see what’s out there. And I didn’t want to shut the door on them and then they don’t get offers and I could’ve still had them so I’ve always left the door open to them.

“I’ve always been honest and candid. I spoke to them at least two or three times a week for the last two or three weeks. I’ve even sent them comedy video messages if I’ve had a drink, begging them to stay, but I think we’ve done everything we can and I’m hopeful that they both stay.

“I can’t guarantee it. I can only control what we do. I can’t control what anyone else wants to offer them, what any other manager wants to tell them – that they’ll build the team around them or be captain – I won’t do that.

“I’ve been honest and I’m hopeful that hopefully those two will stay but there will be new additions because really we need to sign another seven or eight players.”

Smith scored 24 goals in 54 appearances for Rotherham last term while Ihiekwe played in all but four of their League One games.

Quiz: Are these 20 Rotherham United transfer facts true or false?

1 of 20

Georgie Kelly signed to Rotherham from a club in Northern Ireland

The Verdict

Warne is a straight talker and Rotherham fans should be buoyed by his confidence concerning their in-demand pair.

Ihiekwe and Smith were both vital players last term and will surely be mainstays in the starting XI once again if they remain at the New York Stadium.

It’s interesting to get some insight into the manager’s approach to trying to keep hold of the two players and it speaks volumes about his character that he’s so understanding of their situation.

Losing one or both to rivals Wednesday would be a frustrating one for supporters to take – not least because the Owls are playing in the division below – but is a reflection of the added financial might at Hillsborough.


London-based sports journalist at Snack Media EFL accredited, graduate of New Associates and the University of Brighton

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Paul Warne issues update on Rotherham pair linked with Sheffield Wednesday

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