Rotherham United have pledged star striker Danny Ward won’t be sold on the cheap as the battle for the Millers hot-shot starts to hot up.
If the 12-goal hitman does leave, the Millers expect to sell for around the sum they were asking in January when a host of Championship clubs were expressing interest in the transfer window.
Manager Paul Warne, who revealed that he expects his new assistant boss to start work next Tuesday, says two sides are already in the queue for the 26-year-old.
“I think there has been an informal bid from one of the clubs,” Warne told the Star. “The figure involved is not a million miles away from what we were being offered in January.
“I would expect to get the same money in the summer that was on the table then. He hasn’t become a worse player just because he’s played here for the last three months.
“I appreciate the market can be a bit inflated in January because of the nature of the beast. But I believe, if he was to leave, it would be for around the numbers we were talking in January.”
Chairman Tony Stewart said Rotherham turned down more than £2 million for the centre-forward at the beginning of the year. The Millers are taking up their option to extend his contract by 12 months to protect their asset.
Warne, who played down interest in Lincoln City centre-half Luke Waterfall, would love to see the frontman - out of tomorrow’s Championship clash at Preston North End with a hamstring injury - remain in South Yorkshire.
“I really hope Wardy stays and I can build a team around him next year,” he said. “That would be the ideal situation.
“But I’m a realist and if someone comes in with money that I thought and, predominantly, the chairman thought was good value, then regrettably he’ll leave.
“If it’s going to happen, I don’t want it to happen in the last week in June or beginning of July. I’d rather it happen sooner rather than later so it doesn’t ruin any of my planning.”
Warne has watched National League champions Lincoln twice in recent weeks as he scours non-league football for players he thinks could help relegated Rotherham’s League One campaign next season.
“Individually, they have got some good players, but collectively is where they have got their success,” he said. “There are loads of people watching their players because of their league success and their FA Cup run.
“Waterfall ... good player. I haven’t had any contact with his people or anything. I just watched the game. If I’m truly honest, his wasn’t the name I wrote down when I left.”
Warne’s former Rotherham teammate, Richie Barker, is leaving his No 2 role at Charlton Athletic and is expected to be join the Millers in the same role.
The club are doing all they can to persuade prolific loan midfielder Tom Adeyemi to sign a permanent deal with them when his contract at parent club Cardiff City runs out shortly.
Adeyemi has scored seven goals in his last 21 matches and Warne confirmed: “The chairman has let me make him a pretty impressive offer.
“I think he will take it if a Championship club doesn’t come in for him.
“If he gets something in the Championship I think he will take it, but what I have offered him is really good. I think he is pretty impressed I could get that for him.”
The two trialists in Rotherham reserves’ 2-0 win at Mansfield Town on Tuesday were a Fulham right-back and a non-league left winger, who scored. The Millers won’t be signing either of them.
Like Ward, right winger Anthony Forde misses tomorrow’s Deepdale fixture through injury.
Ward could be fit for the final match of the season, the May 7 home match against Derby County, after initial fears his campaign was over.