Striker Jonson Clarke-Harris today became the first out-of-contract Rotherham United player to sign a new deal with the club.
The 22-year-old has agreed a 12-month package with the Millers, who could lose midfielder Tom Adeyemi to Ipswich Town, after making his comeback last month following nine months out with a cruciate knee ligament injury.
The centre-forward started the final two matches of the Championship season for the relegated Millers. He was man of the match in the 1-1 draw at Preston North End on April 29 before being substituted and lasted all of the last-day home clash with Derby County at the weekend, which also finished 1-1.
Manager Paul Warne said: “He’s had an unfortunate season and he’s been out all year with his knee. I spoke to him and told him what I expected from him on and off the training ground and the pitch.
“I wanted to keep him hungry and I wanted to say to him that if he comes back and is in great shape and playing every week, scoring goals, then his contract will increase and the length of his contract will be looked at again.
“The ball is in his court. A fit Clarke-Harris is a handful against anyone. I think he’s done well in a couple of games, but I think he has a lot more to give. I think he will give a lot more because, if he buys into what we’re doing in the summer, he’ll have to.
“I’m looking forward to working with him again. I’ve always had a pretty open relationship with Jono and I think he’s come on a lot at the end of the season, but he’s got a hard summer ahead of him.
“Me and Richie (assistant boss Barker) sat down with him for a good 40 minutes the other day and told him, if he wants to be here, he’s got to buy into this, and he did, so I was pleased with that.
“He’ll go into the summer knowing that he is here next year. If he is injury free then he will be a massive handful in League One, so that’s the aim. We need to get him in great shape in the summer so he can play 35-40 games for us.”
Clarke-Harris was the club’s record buy when he he was signed by then-manager Steve Evans from Oldham Athletic three seasons ago.
In 60 games he has scored nine goals and has twice gone out one loan, to MK Dons and Doncaster Rovers.
Meanwhile, The Star understands that Ipswich Town are heading the Championship clubs eyeing midfield man Adeyemi whose loan spell at New York Stadium has come to an end. Norwich City are also thought to be among his admirers.
Warne says the Millers have made Adeyemi a “really impressive offer” to stay, but he has always known the goalscoring midfielder, out of contract at parent club Cardiff City, has ambitions to remain in the second tier.
The Millers have yet to make announcements about any of their other players whose contracts are due to expire, with midfielder Richie Smallwood, left-back Joe Mattock and centre-half Richard Wood the ones most likely to be offered fresh terms.