Rotherham United: Other deals close as Leon Best and Adam Drury train with Millers

Leon Best
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As he casts his eye over a Premier League striker, manager Neil Redfearn is determined to strip Rotherham United of their last traces of League One.

The Millers are in their second season in the Championship and their new boss has former Newcastle United centre-forward Leon Best on trial.

Neil Redfearn

Neil Redfearn

He has yet to decide whether the 29-year-old, who was with Derby County and Brighton last season, is worth a contract, but does know something for sure - new faces are needed to make his team more of a force in the second tier.

“This is a side that’s done brilliantly to get out of League One but there’s still a little bit of First Division about us,” said the man who took over the hot-seat four games ago.

“We’ve got to become an established. Championship side. That means players coming in, players going out. It’s going to take time.

“Leon has come down to train with us. He hasn’t got a club so he’s a free agent. He’s a fit boy. He looks strong. He looks like he’s looked after himself.

“He looks really sharp. He’s a player of good calibre. He knows this level and has played at the level above. He’s a scorer. If we can get him where we need to get him, it’s an option perhaps. The assessment is, can he go on and make a difference? My first thought is that he can.”

The Millers’ match at fourth-placed Middlesbrough tonight will come too soon for any potential arrivals to play a part, but Redfearn has wasted no time in making loan bids and also has one-time Manchester City youngster Adam Drury training with the club.

“Adam has come. He’s a young boy who’s in between clubs. His last club was Bristol Rovers,” he said.

“He has a very good pedigree, having been at Manchester City. He came through their academy. He can play one or two positions. He’s comfortable with the ball. You can see that. It’s an opportunity to have a look at him.”

Drury, 22, played for Burton Albion and St Mirren before joining Rovers.

Redfearn revealed the Millers are “very close” to making a couple of loan signings and said one of their targets is a player at a top-flight club.

“We’ve got them right to the line and it’s just getting them across that line now,” he said.

A striker is one of his priorities as he looks to lift the burden on young Jonson Clarke-Harris, who has been leading the line for most of the season, and Best may yet fit the bill.

“Leon gives you a physical presence that perhaps we’ve lacked,” the manager said. “It would help the lads already here.

“Young Jonson has done terrifically well, but you forget he’s only 21. We need some competition for places and we need some experience up there and a focal point. We need goals.”

Best had a loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday in 2014, scoring five times in 13 starts

Rotherham turned in their worst display under Redfearn in last Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at Derby but, in hindsight, the boss believes he was wrong to question his players as strongly as he did minutes after the final whistle.

“It might have been a little bit harsh talking about attitude,” he admitted.

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“Reflecting on it, I think they looked more like rabbits trapped in headlights in the first half. It might have come across as lack of effort when in fact Derby got themselves in a strong position and we didn’t wrestle the initiative away enough.

“I have to say, the attitude of the players since I’ve been here has been first class. Derby was the only real ‘down’ game.”

He is expecting a much-improved display at the Riverside Stadium where, he insists, the bottom-placed Millers, who will be without injured striker Matt Derbyshire, are capable of pulling off a shock.

“If you get the performances right then, by and large, you start picking up the points,” he said. “We need to play well against Middlesbrough. We need to push them, and then you can be surprised by what happens. You can pick points up by doing it that way.

“If we play to our potential, as we showed against Reading recently, we are capable of taking points from these top sides. I’ve talked to the boys about staying in the game. It’s important you stay in the game. At 0-0 or 1-0, there’s nothing in it. It only takes a second. It only takes a chance.”