Rotherham United: Millers training chance for troubled Ranger
Wayward striker Nile Ranger is training with Rotherham United as boss Neil Warnock decides whether to add to a squad fighting for their Championship lives.
Ranger, aged 24, has been without a club since walking out on Blackpool in 2015.
The former Newcastle United youngster, who has convictions for robbery and criminal damage and was once cleared of a rape charge, last played for the Tangerines in November 2014, ironically against the Millers.
He went AWOL, citing family reasons, and failed to return even when the club were willing to extend his deal.
Warnock has expressed fears that some of his players aren’t good enough to make an impact on Rotherham’s fight for second-tier survival, although he hasn’t said for definite he will make more signings after bringing in three 30-something free agents last week.
The Millers, who entertain Brentford tomorrow, lost 1-0 at Reading on Tuesday to slip six points from safety and leave their new manager with one point and no goals to show from his first three matches.
The 67-year-old made three changes to the starting 11 which had been beaten 2-0 at Burnley last weekend and threw on three attacking substitutes in the second half in a bid to force a result at the Madejski Stadium.
“Nobody has bashed the door down,” he said. “There were opportunities in the game for people to do something and they didn’t. I have to question whether they are capable of doing it.”
Ranger began his career at Newcastle and had loan spells with Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday before moving on to Swindon Town and then Blackpool.
In 39 league starts and 62 sub appearances in his career he has scored 14 goals.
New arrivals are an option for the Millers, although Warnock, who has already brought in Paddy Kenny, Lloyd Doyley and Jerome Thomas, says that’s not a route he will necessarily take.
“The chairman will be brilliant, whatever I want,” he said. “But it’s not a matter of getting someone in. It’s about getting the people who are in to do better.”
Richard Wood, Joe Mattock and Grant Ward were given starts at Reading, with Doyley, Chris Burke and Danny Ward dropping out, while Warnock introduced Leon Best, Jerome Thomas and Matt Derbyshire from the bench, bringing off Jonson Clarke-Harris, Paul Green and Greg Halford.
“We just have to keep going,” the manager added. “It’s hard when you’re in a relegation battle, but we have got games to play.”
Assistant boss Kevin Blackwell, who arrived with Warnock a fortnight ago, likes what he’s seen of the club, although he accepts his future is uncertain even if the managerial duo defy the odds and keep Rotherham in the second tier.
“The passion for the club is palpable around the town,” he said.
“I was amazed when I saw the stadium.
“I don’t know if there’ll be a chance to stay on next year. Things went really well for us at QPR earlier in the season and the fans were desperate for us to stay.
“You don’t know what’s round the corner in football. That’s the good thing about it, the unknown, the shock.”
Meanwhile, Kirk Broadfoot, whose fitness is being monitored after he suffered a late injury against the Royals, has had seven different partners in central defence since November, including three since Warnock’s appointment.
“As long as we talk to each other, help each other and cover each other, it doesn’t really matter who it is,” he said. “But, yeah, there have been a few of them in the last few weeks!”