Rotherham United: How close is Warne to his first-choice Millers 11?

Michael Ihiekwe impresses against Sheffield United
Michael Ihiekwe impresses against Sheffield United

Manager Paul Warne is on the brink of finalising his starting 11 as the clock ticks down to Rotherham United’s 2017/18 League One campaign.

The Millers are less than a fortnight away from their opening-day encounter at Fleetwood Town and the manager has revealed he has made most of his decisions about who will play where on August 5.

Paul Warne

Paul Warne

“I’m pretty close to my first 11,” he told The Star. “If the league started tomorrow,I have got a rough idea how I would play.”

The Millers lost their 100 per cent pre-season winning record in a 2-1 home defeat to Sheffield United last Friday, but showed up well against last year’s runaway third-tier champions.

Several players pressed their claims to be starters when the action begins for real, with Warne singling out two of his seven summer signings, centre-half Michael Ihiekwe and right-back Josh Emmanuel, for praise after the Blades clash.

“Semi (central defender Ajayi) got Man of the Match, but I thought Michael was better than Semi, to be honest,” the manager said.

Action from the Millers v Blades encounter

Action from the Millers v Blades encounter

“Josh ... there was once when he ran past Frecks (Midfielder Lee Frecklington) in the first half and me and Richie (assistant boss Barker) burst out laughing. He’s got some energy to run past Frecks!”

Rotherham have only two more friendlies involving the senior side - at Chesterfield on Tuesday and against Barnsley at AESSEAL New York Stadium on Saturday - before Warne has to make up his mind.

“There are still a couple of things I am not sure on,” he said. “We’ve got a good, healthy squad who all want to do well for the club.”

The boss is satisfied with the strength and size of his squad and will add to his recruitment only if the right player unexpectedly becomes available or if his side suddenly show shortcomings he has yet to see.

“There are no more lockers in the changing rooms!” he said. “If something comes up over the next few games that makes me think I am missing something, or something comes up that I can afford, then that is different. But I am not actively looking.

“You can strengthen the whole team, but, realistically, the squad I have got I am happy with. We have got lots of options in all positions.

“In midfield, I did go looking for a goalscoring midfielder, but it didn’t come off, and there isn’t anyone out there who I think will improve us in that position.”

New boys striker Jamie Proctor and midfied man Ryan Williams missed out against the Blades because of minor hamstring and ankle complaints respectively.

Click here for more Millers news