Rotherham United: Richie Towell is second deadline-day signing as Aimen Belaid and Dominic Ball depart

Richie Towell
Richie Towell

Rotherham United worked late into the transfer window to add attacking midfielder Richie Towell to their League One squad.

They landed the Brighton player on a season-long loan just before the 11pm deadline last night after announcing the signing of centre-half Manny Onariase from Brentford earlier in the day.

Millers new boy Manny Onariase

Millers new boy Manny Onariase

Irishman Towell, aged 26, has made only six appearances for the Seagulls since joining them last year but scored 43 goals in 34 matches for Dundalk to earn his move to the Amex Stadium.

He came on for Brighton at AESSEAL New York Stadium as a late substitute in March when they beat the Millers 2-0.

Towell, Rotherham’s 11th summer arrival, started his career at Celtic before moving to Hibernian and then Dundalk.

The Millers missed out on a striker to replace Jamie Proctor who has been ruled out for most of the season with a knee injury.

Paul Warne

Paul Warne

With no new centre-forward coming in, Jonson Clarke-Harris had to stay with the club despite loan interest from clubs in League One, League Two and Scotland.

Rotherham parted company with central defender Aimen Belaid by mutual consent and sent utility player Dominic Ball on a season-long loan to Aberdeen.

Manager Paul Warne said: “I am delighted to be able to bring Richie to the club. He is a player I have looked at for a long time, after we made a concerted effort to bring him here in January. He has been on my radar ever since, and I am honoured that he has agreed to come and join us.”

Young 6ft 3in centre-half Onariase joined Rotherham from Brentford on a two-year deal for an undisclosed fee after impressing in a week-long trial earlier this month.

Warne has made it clear to the 20-year-old, who made 24 loan appearances at League Two Cheltenham Town last season, that he starts his career at AESSEAL New York Stadium behind Michael Ihiekwe, Richard Wood and Semi Ajayi in the central-defence pecking order.

But Onariase told The Star: “I’m coming straight in to fight for a first-team spot. The manager wants me to come and fight for a position and hopefully excel and get to the next level. It’s up to me to prove that I’m good enough.

“As a defender, my number one role is to defend. I’m big on defending and winning the ball back and regaining possession for the team. I’m comfortable on the ball as well. The term ‘ball-playing centre-half’ is thrown around and I like to think I’m a ball-playing centre-half, but I have the ugly side to it as well. I’m a hard defender.”

Warne said of Onariase: “He’s really athletic, really aggressive and powerful. He really wants to learn. We had him in for a week and we were considering taking him on loan.

“But I didn’t think that, initially, he would get in my team so I didn’t see the point in bringing him up from Brentford just to sit and watch. But, as a full signing, he will be a good centre-half in years to come.

“The deal is excellent for us. He’s at the right age, an age where he can improve. I’m trying to get players who are going to be here for two, three, four years, and he is one of those.”

Onariase didn’t make Brentford’s senior squad after joining the Bees from West Ham’s youth set-up a year ago.

He added: “With anything I do in life, not just football, I give 100 per cent. Once I want to do something, I’m committed 100 per cent, so the fact the club has agreed to take me means I’m 100 per cent committed to the club and the area and everything.

“The chance the manager has given me is massive for me, the chance to play first-team football regularly, at a higher level than I was doing last season. I can’t wait to get started.

“The stadium is beautiful. Everyone has been welcoming and really nice to me. I just get that ‘homely’ feeling from the club, so that’s good.

“Competition is great. I think that’s how any young player succeeds, by competing and being challenged and getting to the next level.

“The manager has a good way of doing things. He wanted me to come up for a week, to train with the lads and get a feel for the club, to see how training is and what all the lads are like.

“It was magnificent. It helped me to make my decision, being round here training, seeing the quality of the players, how the coaching staff are and how everything is run.

“The boss has a certain way he likes to do things, and I like it. I spent a lot of time after training doing extra with him and his assistant (No 2 Richie Barker). The fact he has given his time to me already, and shown he cares, that’s important for a player.”

Surgery for Proctor