Rotherham United: Price arrival signals end for trialist keeper Konopka

Lewis Price
Lewis Price
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Rotherham United’s swoop for goalkeeper Lewis Price has dashed the hopes of a Millers contract for trialist Chris Konopka.

The 31-year-old American had been training with the Championship club and was part of the squad which played two matches in Poland last week.

But sources on the south coast say he is now working with League Two Portsmouth and trying to earn a deal at Fratton Park.

Price’s arrival at AESSEAL New York Stadium filled the Millers’ final goalkeeping vacancy, with last year’s Player of the Year, Lee Camp, and first-year professional Laurence Bilboe, aged 18, already on the books.

The former Sheffield Wednesday shot-stopper, 31, signed by manager Alan Stubbs on the recommendation of goalkeeping coach Andy Dibble, was meeting his new teammates for the first time today as the players returned to Roundwood after their eight-day Poland trip.

Rotherham expect to hear shortly whether veteran midfielder Dean Whitehead has decided to join them for Stubbs’ first season in charge or see out the remaining year he has with fellow second-tier outfit Huddersfield Town.

Alan Stubbs and goalkeeping coach Andy Dibble

Alan Stubbs and goalkeeping coach Andy Dibble

The Millers are thought to be one of three Championship clubs interested in Falkirk midfielder Will Vaulks.

Vaulks’ form came to Stubbs’ attention when the 44-year-old was in charge at Hibernian last season, and the former Tranmere Rovers youth player was in the Bairns side that beat Hibs in a two-legged Scottish Championship play-off semi-final in May.

Bristol City and Barnsley are believed to be the other two sides tracking the 22-year-old.

Rotherham striker Jonson-Clarke-Harris hasn’t played since limping out of the Parkgate FC friendly on July 9 through injury and the club have yet to say how long he will be out for.

Dean Whitehead

Dean Whitehead

Meanwhile, centre-half Richard Wood believes a top-half finish is a realistic ambition for the Millers next season.

With opening day less than three weeks away, Stubbs has yet to bring in all the players he wants, but the majority of last term’s survival side remains intact.

Rotherham secured their safety by losing only four of their last 16 games, and Wood said: “There’s no reason why, if we start the season well, we can’t carry it on. Midtable or maybe above. I don’t want to say we’re going to be top half but at the same time I don’t want to sell us short.

“I’m not saying we can’t go on a good run and be up there. There’s no reason why we can’t. Plenty of teams have done it in the past. Why can’t we do it next year?”

Stubbs said: “We are all aware that we need to bring players in, but there is a good core of first-team players here that I am happy with. But everybody knows that we need to add some strength in depth to the squad.”

Wood, a key player in the survival run-in, is determined to prove his worth to Stubbs after signing a new one-year deal, but the ex-Owls still found time to reflect on his favourite moment of last season - the 1-0 derby triumph in S6.

“Hillsborough. It’s got to be winning there,” he said. “I had a decent game. It was against my old club, I played well, we won and I think it was only the second defeat they’d had at home all season.”

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