New Rotherham United signing Brandon Barker has long been a wanted man, manager Neil Redfearn has revealed.
The Millers have snapped up the 19-year-old Manchester City left winger on loan until January and he goes straight into contention for tomorrow’s home clash with Ipswich Town.
Redfearn said: “In the summer there were a lot of Championship clubs chasing his signature regarding a season-long loan,” he said.
“For us to get him out of City at this point is a real coup for us. It is exciting because he fits into quite a young group with the likes of Grant Ward, Farrend Rawson and Harry Toffolo.”
Celtic and Leeds United were among those keen on signing the England Under-19 international during the last transfer window.
“He is an exciting young player,” Redfearn added. “He represents a ball-carrier who will go past players and make things happen. He is a goalscorer who is quite young in years but has had quite a lot of experience around the first team at Manchester City.
“They think that he is going to develop into a top player so for us to get him is a massive plus. It is a great deal for us. He is what we need. He has the ability to open sides up. He can create goalscoring opportunities and he can score goals. He will be a massive addition for us.”
Barker, who trains with the Premier League giant’s first team and has made their senior matchday squad six times, is said to be lightning quick.
Voted City’s Academy U-18 Players’ Player of the Year in 2014 after scoring 13 times in 32 games, he could play for Rotherham tomorrow afternoon, and is then away on England duty next week during the international break.
Barker is no stranger to the home dressing room at AESSEAL New York Stadium as he represented an England U-18s there against Germany last year.
“What we need to do is, whatever system we play, free him up and get him running at the opposition,” Redfearn said. “Once he starts going past people, he will start creating chances. He can finish. He has been a regular goalscorer for Manchester City’s U-21s, and this is the start of us changing the face of what we look like.”
Meanwhile, Redfearn admits telling players they don’t have a future under him at Rotherham is a “brutal” process.
The new manager has identified the members of his squad he considers surplus to requirements and the Millers are now circulating their names to other clubs in the hope of generating their loan departures.
“For their benefit, they need to go and further their careers,” Redfearn said. “If it’s not going to be here, they need to go and crack on with their careers somewhere else.
“Sometimes it’s quite brutal and it’s ruthless, but you’ve got to do it.”
He informed the players concerned of his decision in private meetings earlier this week.
Redfearn, who has been in charge for five games, says he has to strengthen his playing options if he is to lift bottom-placed Rotherham out of the Championship drop zone.
“We’ve got to freshen things up. We’ve got to get better players in. We’ve got to get players who can deal with this level. We’ve got to improve the standard,” he said.
“This is a process. We’re not the only club that’s going to do this. We’re not the only club in the history in the Championship that’s gone through this. We’ve got to be brave and we’ve got to do it.
“If we want to stay in this division and then go and compete at the other end, we’ve got to start the process now.”
Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy says Redfearn faces a tough task after taking over from Steve Evans.
“He has got his work cut out because that’s not an easy situation to be thrown into,” said McCarthy, like Redfearn, a former Barnsley player. “You’ve got to find out what your players are best at, find a system, find a shape and then they’ve got to work hard to stay in the league.
“The dirty part of the game - being hard-working, dogged, tackling, scrapping, winning the ball back, pressing the opposition, being professional - all those bits are the best side of the game when you’re in that sort of position.
“If you can scrap results out, as we did when I first took charge here, then you give yourself something to build on.”
The Millers beat Ipswich 2-0 at AESSEAL New York Stadium last season and McCarthy conceded his side were given “a bit of a doing”.
But he has targeted an away victory as the Tractor Boys look to break into the play-off reckoning.
“It’s vital we keep picking up points and we’ll be going to Rotherham looking to win,” he said.
“No-one should think it’s going to be easy going there, though. They’re fighting for their lives and have got a good coach/manager in Neil Redfearn. And they’ve got good Championship players too.
Town went eight matches without a win but beat Bolton Wanderers 2-0 at home on Tuesday.
Redfearn picked two former Ipswich players, Paul Green and Frazer Richardson, who had been out of favour under previous Millers boss Evans, for his side’s midweek match at Middlesbrough.
“They’re no mugs at all. Greeny was excellent against us up there last year,” McCarthy said.
“Frazer and Greeny are top, top pros. They are fantastic lads who anybody would want in their squad.
“I think Neil has gone back to them lads because when you come into a club you immediately think ‘who can I hang my hat on?’ and more importantly ‘who can’t I hang my hat on?’
“You find that out very quickly through the tittle-tattle in the dressing room and through the staff.
“You watch them in training and you find out about people very quickly. You want the players you can trust and Greeny and Frazer are certainly two top guys, as they showed when they were here.”