Rotherham United have already had one bid for loan hitman Kieffer Moore rejected, manager Paul Warne has revealed.
The League One Millers tabled an offer in the opening days of the season, in the same week the 25-year-old marked his home league debut with a hat-trick, but it was turned down by parent club Ipswich Town.
Moore, who cost the Tractor Boys £10,000 when they signed him from Forest Green last January, hit a first-half treble against Southend United on August 12 and has since taken his goal tally to 13 in 19 league matches.
“The chairman agreed we could put an offer in,” Warne said. “It was rejected and they let us know he wasn’t really for sale and that they wanted him out on loan and to see where it took him.”
Rotherham haven’t revealed how much money they put on the table.
Championship Ipswich plan to recall the centre-forward from his season-long loan in January. The Millers will be one of many interested clubs if Town decide to cash in on their asset, but Warne thinks they will give the player a chance to impress.
“Mick McCarthy (Ipswich boss) has said he is going to take him back in January and I don’t think there is anything more certain than that,” the Rotherham manager said. “It is written in cement. It is like one of the Commandments if Mick McCarthy says that. There is no way on this earth he will change his mind.
“Kieffer will go back, hopefully plays for Ipswich, they don’t see what we see, so he can play for us again. They might sell him before he even kicks a ball, but I have been led to believe he will go back and play.”
The targetman has been a sensation in South Yorkshire but arrived in the summer having failed to find the net in 11 second-tier substitute appearances for the East Anglian outfit.
“I could have got Kieffer in on a permanent, but it was a bit of a gamble. A lot of people told me it was a bad gamble at the time,” Warne said. “It could have gone that way and I’d have fallen flat on my face. The loans are there for giving players game-time and now I have got to find something of a similar ilk.”
The boss, who takes his 12th-placed side to Bristol Rovers tomorrow, is looking to bring in two strikers, a centre-half and a right-back in the New Year window.
“Every day in management is a challenge and replacing Kieffer is just one of those challenges,” Warne said.
“Since he started scoring and Ipswich knocked our bid back, we have been looking for replacements because it is inevitable that if you are scoring every week in League One then your parent club will want you back. It’s not like we have woken up today and only just realised it is going to happen.
“I was going to treat the lads to a cardboard cut-out of him and put it in the foyer over Christmas, and to tug at his heartstrings as well.
“I was sat at the training ground looking at clips. I was showing Kieffer who I am trying to get to replace him and I could see a little tear in his eye!
“When he goes back to Ipswich, I hope it goes brilliantly for him and he plays in the Championship for the rest of his life. I will be over the moon for him. He’s a great kid. He deserves to play at the highest level. But, from a selfish point of view, I hope he comes back and plays for me.
“It’s frustrating he is going back, but it shows how well he has done. If every loan player who came here got called back all the time, it would be frustrating but it would show we have done something right and we would get a good reputation.”