Rotherham United: Will Vaulks ... midfielder or right-back?

Will Vaulks
Will Vaulks

Manager Paul Warne may have his work cut out to convince the player he describes as a ‘mini me’ that his Rotherham United future could lie in a different position.

Former Millers attacker Warne has talked of converting Will Vaulks into a regular right-back after the midfield man filled in there impressively in the injury absence of Darnell Fisher.

But Vaulks - who has the workrate and passion which characterised Warne in his playing days - had made it plain that, while he’s happy to play anywhere to help the team, he prefers life in Rotherham’s engine room.

“Will’s a little bit like the younger version of me,” the boss said. “He just wants to play football.

“I think he’d go in goal if it meant he played. Those characters in the dressing room, the enthusiastic ones, are the ones you want. They’re contagious.

“But every time I play him at right-back, he then wants to come and knock on my door and tell me he doesn’t want to play right-back.”

Vaulks played five matches at full-back in March and early April before returning to his usual role when Fisher recovered from a pulled hamstring and the Millers lost midfielder Lee Frecklington for the rest of the season to a shin injury.

“He sees himself as a central midfielder because he has got the energy to burn,” Warne added.

Vaulks, a summer buy of previous manager Alan Stubbs last summer, has sometimes struggled with the pace of midfield play in the second tier but looked assured in defence against Aston Villa, Brighton, Wolves, QPR and Fulham.

The 23-year-old underlined his versatility when he moved to centre-half during relegated Rotherham’s 1-0 Championship win over Ipswich Town last weekend.

He deputised for Semi Ajayi, who departed in the 53rd minute with a tight hamstring, and found himself up against 6ft 5in Tractor Boys substitute Kieffer Moore.

“They put ‘the giant’ on and I think Will competed really well,” said Warne whose side are at Preston North End on Saturday. “I shook that lad’s hand at the end of the game. My God, he was a good size. Will did really well in that spot.”