“When we signed him we got abuse for signing a substitute at Bury” – Paul Warne discusses Rotherham striker Michael Smith’s prowess

Rotherham manager Paul Warne is backing Michael Smith to be a threat in the Championship after watching him give Cardiff’s defence nightmares.

The Millers striker led the line superbly in a 2-1 friendly win against the Premier League newboys on Tuesday and scored the decisive goal in the second half after helping set up the first.

He gave seasoned Championship defenders Sean Morrison and Bruno Mangla at torrid evening at the AESSEAL New York Stadium with his physicality and running of the channels, which was not dissimilar to an Alan Lee type performance.

Smith was instrumental to the Millers’ promotion last season following his January arrival from Bury and Warne is pleased with his efforts.

“It was good to see him score, he was an absolute menace to them, I thought he was outstanding, I thought he was our top performer in a classroom full of students,” Warne said of his showing against the Bluebirds.

“I am surprised that Neil (Warnock) hasn’t spoken to me saying he wants to sign him because he is right up his street.

“I thought he gave their back three an absolute battering and he might even have surprised himself.

“Smudge has been brilliant since he came in, when we signed him we got abuse for signing a substitute at Bury, because obviously we don’t know what we are doing.

“He has come in and done well and he is always trying to improve. The way we play is that if the strikers don’t work hard for us then we’ve got a problem.

“I have spent a lot of months shouting at Smudge in a nice way.”

The 26-year-old scored six times for the Millers in 23 games on the way to League One promotion, but he has been far more prolific in pre-season.

His strike against Cardiff was his eighth in just five friendly outings this summer, which included a hat-trick in a behind-closed-doors friendly with Grimsby.

Warne says goals are not the be all and end all for Smith, but is pleased his striker is finding the net.

“No disrespect, the opposition hasn’t been amazing, Cardiff excluded, but he keeps scoring all the time,” Warne added.

“He doesn’t have to score because his overall play is essential to how good and effective we are.

“If he does score then it’s an absolute cherry on the cake. He will take a lot of confidence from that goal and you want to be scoring in pre-season.

“If he can take that form and belief in to the season then great.”

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