Rotherham United: Tony Stewart's call to Dexter Blackstock
Chairman Tony Stewart has challenged Dexter Blackstock to start justifying the money Rotherham United have pumped into the misfiring striker.
Blackstock has a Premier League pedigree but has struggled to make his mark with the Championship Millers since arriving in September, scoring one goal in 17 games.
The 30-year-old is believed to be the club’s biggest earner and Stewart said: “After the investment that has gone into that guy, I would like to see what’s inside him.
“It’s work in progress. This guy has played at a high level and has got something. We haven’t seen it at Rotherham yet.”
Rotherham plan to speak with the former Southampton, QPR and Nottingham Forest centre-forward in a bid to bring out the best of him in a Millers shirt.
“We’ll be talking to Blackstock,” Stewart said. “I know that Paul Warne (caretaker boss) is working with him.
“I would say this about Dexter, we will work with him. It’s a two-way street. It’s not just us telling him. It’s a communication on both sides.”
Blackstock joined the Millers on an three-year deal last September, when Alan Stubbs was in manager, after terminating his contract at Forest so he could sign as a free agent outside of the summer transfer window.
Rotherham are heading for League One, with their relegation set to be mathematically confirmed in early April, and Blackstock’s earnings will drop next season.
“Most prudent clubs prepare for a situation where, if they do go down, they don’t have the same wage bill,” Stewart said. “We’ve done our preparation on that front.”
Blackstock has been out with a knee injury but returned to the squad for the final match before the international break, a 5-1 loss at former club QPR.
Only five of his appearances have been starts and his sole goal came in a 3-1 defeat at Norwich City on October 15.
“It’s for the manager and the trainers to maximise what they’ve got,” Stewart said. “I’m still working to make sure that if there’s something we can revive from the past, we do it.
“We haven’t given up on it. We’ll try to achieve that.”
Meanwhile, Warne has set his team a target of three victories in their final eight matches, even though they are on a run of seven successive defeats.
They return to action on Saturday at home to play-off-chasing Fulham and the interim manager said: “I’d like to aim for three wins. I’d take that.”
Rotherham, who have only 17 points this season and are just 13 goals away from conceding a century, could triumph at the weekend and still go down if other results go against them.
Warne added: “Players just want to go out and win football matches. They don’t want to lose 5-1 at QPR. When it goes to 3-1, the lads aren’t consciously thinking: ‘Oh no, that’s one more closer to the 100 mark.’
“All I can do is try to get the best out of this group. Fundamentally, they are struggling at this level.”