Rotherham United: Joey Barton link runs out of gas, but Millers ready to strengthen

Joey Barton
Joey Barton

As he saves up to meet Joey Barton’s travel costs, boss Steve Evans is determined to bring other new players to Rotherham United.

Evans says the club couldn’t afford to pay Barton’s petrol bill, but pledged that business will be done elsewhere before the transfer window closes next Tuesday.

Callum McGregor

Callum McGregor

Admitting he’s an admirer of Scottish under-21 international Callum McGregor, the Millers manager said: “We have to do some business. It is very, very evident to us and our staff that we need to get stronger.

Evans wants a midfielder, but, speaking ahead of tonight’s Capital One Cup clash at home to Premier League Norwich City, says there is “zero” chance it will be 32-year-old free agent Barton who has spent most of his career in the top flight.

“He’s a fantastic footballer,” Evans said. “But I don’t think we can afford Joey’s petrol, never mind Joey. Our problem would be funding Joey’s Ferrari or whatever he’s driving into Rotherham from wherever he lives.

“Absolutely I’d sign him if we could afford him. I think a lot of clubs in the Championship would, wouldn’t they? I think one or two would in the Premier League as well. He’s someone I admire as a footballer. Have I spoken to Joey Barton? No. If Joey Barton wants to play for Rotherham United, give me a ring, Joey!”

Steve Evans

Steve Evans

The Rotherham boss, who says he will make changes for tonight’s match against the Canaries, is monitoring the situation of 22-year-old McGregor at Glasgow Celtic.

“He’s a super footballer,” he said, “My understanding is that Celtic would only ever do any business if it’s a permanent. I think there’s a lot of people waiting to see what Glasgow Celtic do in the Champions League.

“I have seen some footage of Celtic’s match at the weekend and Callum had a good game.”

McGregor played against the Millers during their League One promotion season when he was on loan at Notts County.

THe Millers will make decisions today on whether injured duo Joe Mattock and Richie Smallwood are fit to play against Alex Neil’s side, and Evans says the half-time withdrawal of Smallwood at QPR last Saturday highlights the need for more cover in the middle of the park.

“I hear people see we have lots of options in the central midfield area but, with Richie Smallwood out, we have three central midfield players,” he said.

“So we will take a look at that department and maybe one or two other departments as well.”

The club had hoped to see new faces coming through the door in the last 10 days, but their targets chose to go elsewhere.

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“It’s tough for us,” Evans conceded. “We realise we don’t have the resources of some, and that’s been proved as recently as the last few days and last week when we thought we were getting a couple of players.”

Evans expects Norwich to make no more than three changes tonight, and Canaries boss Neil confirmed: ““We’ll be putting out a strong squad and we’re going to be trying to win the game.”

The last time the clubs met at AESSEAL New York Stadium was in April when a 1-1 draw went a long way to securing Rotherham’s Championship survival and ended the away side’s hopes of automatic promotion.

“There’s not that much at stake this time compared to last time, that much is obvious,” Neil added.

“It’s a one-off competition, and strange things happen in cups. You can’t under-estimate the opposition. As we saw last season when we went there, it’s a tough place to go.”