Jonson Clarke-Harris is facing an uncertain Rotherham United future, with the club yet to decide whether to give their young striker a new deal.
The 22-year-old has just returned to the first-team fold after nine months out following knee surgery and is out of contract in the summer.
The Millers have an option to extend his stay by 12 months, but new boss Paul Warne says the centre-forward needs to press his claim between now and the end of the season.
Warne, who took the hot-seat permanently last week after a four-month spell as caretaker manager, believes Rotherham have no obligation to keep Clarke-Harris despite his long absence after damaging his cruciate ligments last July.
“If he performs to the level and proves that he wants to be here, then potentially a contract could be there,” Warne said.
“But if he doesn’t do that, I don’t think the club have an ethical responsibility to offer him a new deal.
“If Jono gets back to his best or shows he is getting back there, I would presume there would be something there for him. If he would accept it or not is another thing. Footballers are complex characters.
Clarke-Harris has appeared as a substitute in the relegated Millers’ last two matches and should be in the squad to face Birmingham City in the Championship at New York Stadium on Good Friday.
In three years in the second tier, Rotherham’s former record signing has made 52 league appearances, scoring nine goals.
Charlton Athletic had a signifcant bid for him rejected in the 2016 January transfer window when Neil Redfearn was Millers boss
“He has been unlucky this year,” Warne said. “I need to see him in games.”
Clarke-Harris says he is now fitter than ever, and his manager added: “He has to try to impress all of us or potential employers elsewhere. I don’t honestly know which way that will go yet.”