Paul Warne speaks to www.themillers.co.uk...
It was the questions directed to the Millers boss that convinced Paul Warne that new signing Michael Ihiekwe was the right fit for Rotherham United.
Warne swooped for the highly-rated defender following Tranmere’s failure to return to the EFL, with the ex-Wolves central-defender becoming the Millers’ first close season recruit.
Warne, who revealed that he is looking to bolster his ranks with five or six summer arrivals, has said from the off that he is looking to improve his defensive options, and he believes that Ihiekwe has the attributes required to challenge the likes of Semi Ajayi for a spot at the heart of his defence.
It wasn't only the playing style that intrigued Warne, who is a firm advocate of players showing the right mental skills to succeed in League One.
The Millers boss admits the clincher was Ihiekwe’s ability to seek answers about the Club from Warne, after the two met in what proved to be a successful summit.
“I spoke to him and I met him when he came to the stadium,” Warne told www.themillers.co.u
I really liked him because he was refreshing in the fact that he actually asked me some questions instead of me doing all the talking.
“He was at Wolves as a kid and the recruitment team brought him to my attention. I went and watched him in the Play-off final and although he lost, he looked competitive and athletic.
“He wanted to know where I saw him in my plans and I told him the truth, in that, if he comes back in pre-season and is the best centre-half then he'd play. It's as simple as that, I haven't got any favourites and I'd put anyone in who is performing.”
Ihiekwe, who played 42 times for Tranmere last season in all competitions, made his last appearance for Rovers at Wembley as Micky Mellon’s side were beaten in the National League Play-off final by Forest Green Rovers.
A stalwart of the Tranmere back-line in recent years, Ihiekwe this season passed 100 career appearances for the Prenton Park Club.
It was his consistent performances that alerted the Millers, with Warne confirming he has done his homework on the ex-Cheltenham Town loanee
“I got some good reports from different people about him and while he still has some improvements to make, it's our job to do that,” explained the Millers boss.
“I think his best years are still probably in front of him. With the help of Hammy (Matt Hamshaw) and Rich (Richie Barker) and having good players around him, I think he'll come on another level. Hopefully in a year's time we'll be talking about the fact that he's hard to keep hold of.
“He'll come in pre-season have a really good pre-season and work hard and hopefully go on to have a great career for us.”