Rotherham United: ‘It’s up to you to win the shirt,’ Millers boss Warne tells Blackstock

Dexter Blackstock
Dexter Blackstock

Manager Paul Warne is handing Dexter Blackstock the chance to resurrect his Rotherham United career after a first season of under-achievement for the Millers striker.

The club’s biggest earner managed only five starts and 12 substitute appearances in their Championship relegation campaign after signing a three-year deal last September.

But Warne says the 30-year-old frontman can still play his way into his plans for League One once the squad return for training after their summer break.

When The Star asked the boss whether he could see Blackstock playing under him again, he replied: “If he came back in pre-season and was the best striker in the group, then yes.

But he also warned: “If Dexter isn’t the best or second best, then - as is the same with everybody else - his playing time will be limited.”

Blackstock, who turns 31 on Saturday, has scored once in a Millers shirt, in the 3-1 October defeat at Norwich City during the reign of the manager who recruited him, Alan Stubbs.

Towards the end of the season, he wasn’t even making the 18-man matchday squad, even though he was available for selection, and didn’t feature in March, April or May.

“I think Dexter will admit that last season was disappointing in terms of his amount of time on the grass,” Warne added.

The former Premier League frontman moved to New York Stadium after negotiating his release from Nottingham Forest. His wages will drop now the Millers are in a lower division, although they will still be substantial by third-tier standards.

Meanwhile, Rotherham, after activating a 12-month extension on top scorer Danny Ward’s contract, will look elsewhere for strikers before considering a second loan spell for Carlton Morris who returned to parent club Norwich City earlier this month.

Warne said: “I spoke to Carlton and said, did he enjoy it? He did. Would he consider coming back if the opportunity arose for me and him? He said he’d love to come back but ideally he wants to get in the Norwich team.

“I wish him all the best and I’ll have different targets anyway. It might be something we revisit in the summer or January. I’ll always keep an eye on his career.”

Morris, aged 21, played eight times for Rotherham following his March arrival but failed to score.

“It’s a pity he wasn’t here on a season-long loan where you could have him in pre-season and be able to work with him,” Warne added.

“When you have a couple of games a week, it is difficult to change a player. Pre-season is a good time to sculpt them into doing exactly what you want them to do. Mid-season isn’t really. It’s more about recovering and preparing for each game.

“But I like Carlton. Unfortunately for him, his last couple of games weren’t the best. He had an injury to his foot and he felt he let himself down a little bit. Up until then, I thought he was looking a great hold-up man, if nothing else.”

Rotherham will play a pre-season friendly at North Ferriby on Wednesday July 26, kick-off 7,30pm.

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