Former Millers loan star James Tavernier was so keen to return to Rotherham United that he made personal pleas to manager Steve Evans to re-sign him.
The right-back, who was a key man in last season’s League One promotion campaign, eventually went to Bristol City on loan when parent club Wigan Athletic refused to sanction a deal with a rival Championship side.
But he had made numerous attempts to engineer a second spell at AESSEAL New York Stadium, Evans revealed.
Speaking ahead of tonight’s home clash with Bolton Wanderers, the Millers manager said: “We made a move to sign James Tavernier before he went from Wigan to Bristol City.
“The people at board level there didn’t wish for him to come to Rotherham because we’re in a battle with them in the league table .
“We have to respect that. As a parent club, it’s their right.
“James Tavernier rang me nearly every day for three weeks, desperate for me to take him here. But he became aware that under no circumstances would he be allowed to join us.”
Rotherham have made offers for players as they bid to improve on their 20th place in the Championship, with Evans anticipating up to three new arrivals before the transfer window closes next Monday night.
He wants a squad of around 21 players by next week and is willing to let more fringe men leave.
“If the bids are accepted, we can do something. If they’re not, the chairman can decide if he’s done enough with that, and we can have a look at others if that’s the case,” he said.
“We’ve settled our squad right down, which is what we’ve done every previous January. We’ve got 18 first-team players, and there are four who are available to go and get their football somewhere else because they’re not going to play for us in the Championship.
“That tells us we’re light in terms of numbers... 20/21 players is the number we want to work with, and we’ll be seeing maybe two or three new players before the deadline next week.”
He says left-back Mat Sadler and winger Ryan Hall are in talks with other clubs.
The Rotherham boss added: “We’d love to be in a position to go and sign someone who’s got a proven scoring track record in the Championship. If our supporters think Steve Evans doesn’t think like that, then they don’t know Steve Evans. But they come with a price.
“We’ve brought Conor Sammon into the football club and he has a part to play. We’ve just brought in Adam Hammill and Danny Ward. So we’ve brought some people in who can help score goals.”
Former Millers hitman Adam Le Fondre has joined tonight’s opponents on loan, from Cardiff City, although he can’t play this evening, and Evans admits he is a striker he would have liked to have signed.
“We had a little sniff a while back when he was first not getting in the team at Cardiff. But it just couldn’t be afforded, and it’s about affordability,” he said.
Le Fondre, nicknamed Alfie, scored 58 goals for Rotherham at a rate of more than one every two games, and Evans added: “I’m sure he would walk over broken coals to come back and play in a Millers shirt again, especially in the new stadium.”
Bolton, revived under new manager Neil Lennon after a poor start to the season, will be missing veteran Emile Heskey tonight through injury.
“Their form is top-four form during Neil’s time at the club, but it doesn’t surprise me,” Evans said,
“He’s done a great job.”