Rotherham United are lining up their January strike targets as they face up to the prospect of life without top scorer Kieffer Moore.
Moore, who bagged his 12th goal of the season in Saturday’s League One 3-1 defeat against Gillingham, is on loan from Championship Ipswich Town and Tractor Boys boss Mick McCarthy has revealed his intention to recall the 6ft 5in hitman in the next transfer window.
The Millers are ready to make a substantial offer for the 25-year-old if McCarthy takes him back and then decides to sell him.
However, they are also tracking other centre-forwards in case the targetman stays at Portman Road or goes to another club.
“I’d love to keep him,” said manager Paul Warne. “But if his future is elsewhere, then we have to look for other people to fill the hole he leaves.
“If he keeps performing the way he has - I didn’t think he was the best against Gillingham, to be honest - and the lad wants to stay and Ipswich don’t want him, then obviously I’ll bid for him. But there are a lot of ifs, buts and maybes really.”
Warne, who wants to bring in two frontmen if Moore leaves AESSEAL New York Stadium for good, plans to speak to McCarthy in the next few days.
“I’ve seen Mick’s comments in the paper,” he said. “I’ll probably touch base with him this week.
“Mick can do as he pleases. Kieffer is his player. He’s kindly loaned him to me. Mick holds all the aces really.
“If Mick wants Kieffer to go back and play for him, Kieffer goes with my blessing. He’s been brilliant for me. I’m also realistic enough to accept he is Mick’s player, not mine. If Mick had one of mine and that player was ripping it up and scoring for fun, I’d kindly tell Mick I’m pulling him back.
“Kieffer’s come here as part of his development. If Mick sees he’s a better player than he was, he might want to use him. Or he might not want to use him. I don’t know. I have to respect what Mick wants.”
Rotherham slipped to sixth in the table after losing to the Gills and Warne was angry that his side were hit by identical early and late goals when Josh Parker was allowed free headers at corners.
“It’s disappointing when you concede at all. From set-pieces, there’s no reason for it.,” he said. “Maybe there is if an opponent shows really good movement, but I’ve watched the goals back and it’s not like there’s amazing movement for them to score.
“We’ve conceded three goals, two from set-pieces. That needs addressing.”
The shock defeat against one of the division’s basement teams brought to an end a run of five successive Millers league wins at New York.
“There were no indications beforehand that things weren’t right,” Warne added. “They get prepared the same, they warm up the same, they get motivated the same.
“We begged them not to start the game badly. If you go away from home and the team against you doesn’t do a great deal in the first 10 or 15 minutes, you gain a bit of confidence from that.
“As an away team, you think: ‘It’s not so bad playing here.’ We weren’t playing the creative, energetic football I want us to play. Fundamentally, we didn’t defend well enough to win a football match.”