Steve Evans has driven thousands of miles in his quest for new players this summer, and the travelling is not over for the Rotherham United manager.
After the arrival of seven new faces, most of the Millers’ pre-season recruitment is done, but assistant boss Paul Raynor revealed that there are still more signings to come.
“We’re still working on one or two things. I’m not going to sit here and lie and tell you we’re working on another five or six,” he said.
“I think the Gaffer has done more miles this summer than anybody. It’s been absolutely non-stop.”
Goalkeeper Emi Martinez, who had a successful loan spell at AESSEAL New York Stadium last season, is a target, but reports linking the club with Will Grigg and Lorenzo Davids are wide of the mark. Young midfielder Grant Ward has impressed while training with the Millers and Evans could look to strike a deal.
The club have made a flurry of signings in the last week, bringing in Emmanuel Ledesma, Danny Collins, Tom Thorpe and Greg Halford, delighting supporters who were keen to see more reinforcements after the capture of Aidy White, Joe Mattock and Lewis Buxton.
“If you look at the calibre of players we’ve brought in, the wait has been worth it,” Raynor said. “The fans are excited about the calibre and we certainly are.
“The players have had a nice break. For members of staff, it’s been hectic. You’re now starting to see the fruits of all that labour.
“People a couple of weeks ago were probably thinking ‘What’s going on? They’ve hardly signed anybody’. When we start losing players like Ben Pringle, Craig Morgan and Kari Armason, people think we’ve got a screw loose. But they don’t see what’s going on behind the scenes, the work that’s going on and the meetings we’re having.”
A new keeper is one of the Millers’ priorities as they look to put together a more compact squad than 12 months ago for their second season in the Championship under Evans.
They are in talks with “two or three” clubs over a shot-stopper, and Evans has been hard at work this week in that area.
“Last year we probably had a squad that was too big. We felt that the Championship is very intense and we needed 25 players,” Raynor said. “Unfortunately, some of those players weren’t actually up to the level and when they came in they weren’t able to do the job we expected.
“This year it’s going to be a little bit more streamlined, a squad of maybe 21. 22 maximum.
“We can supplement that, if need be, with the odd loan signing here and there. We used the loan market quite well towards the end of last season. We’re not writing that off. But if we can get a squad of around 21 good, solid Championship footballers that will give us a much better chance of not going what we went through last year.”
The Millers survived in the Championship last term despite a three-point Football League deduction, and Evans and Raynor are looking to climb into the top half of the table next season.
“We’ve learned from last year,” Raynor added. “We probably learned more last year than we did in the last four or five years of success. Hopefully we will put that into practice and it will be an enjoyable season for us, because last year, for all the euphoria of staying up, was a tough year.
“We’re used to winning, we’re not used to losing games. It was hard to take. The Gaffer and I take defeat personally. We hate it. You see us on the touchline - we kick every ball, we head every ball, we make every tackle. So there were some down times in and around last season. But Rotherham, as a club, has fought back in the past from administration and moving grounds. That’s one thing about Rotherham United ... they’re up for a scrap and a fight. We proved that last year, but we don’t want to go through that, and the stresses of the end of the season, again.”