Paul Warne talks to www.themillers.co.uk...
Boss Paul Warne believes that new signing Michael Ihiekwe’s experiences in the National League will provide the perfect grounding for the next stage of his career.
Warne made the former Wolverhampton Wanderers defender his first signing of the close season, after watching him closely over the past few months, culminating in Tranmere’s recent Play-off final appearance at Wembley.
The 24-year-old has been a mainstay of the Tranmere back-line over the last three seasons, and after appearing over 40 times in all competitions last season, Warne now believes the time is right for the former Cheltenham Town loanee to make the step-up to League One.
“Obviously his season ended without promotion, but he collected 95 points with Tranmere in the Conference and everyone knows that's a physical, man's league and he played a massive part in their success,” Warne said of his latest recruit.
“It's a great opportunity for him stepping up two leagues, but I definitely think he's got the potential to play in this league and possibly the league above.”
The hyper-competitive National League has proved to be the graveyard of some well-established EFL Clubs in recent years.
Those not prepared for the muck and bullets of English Football’s fifth tier have found themselves wanting, but Ihiekwe’s consistent performances over the past two years have shown he has the appetite for a battle.
Warne confessed earlier that it was Ihiekwe’s mental approach that enticed him as much as his ability on the field, with the Millers boss admitting that he wasn’t the only EFL manager who coveted the Liverpool-born ace.
“He had a few options but he was keen to buy into what we said to him and I'm glad to have him on board,” Warne continued.
“Obviously we're trying to get more and more in and I want some attackers through the door but it's a continuous thing. The game changes a little bit every day but we're doing everything we possibly can."