With Larne looking to tempt Millar away from Warden Street, Jeffrey is, yet again, trying to keep one of his prize assets.
The rise and rise of the local game is all well and good for the haves, but those who don’t have just as much are fighting a battle — and more often than not, it is a losing one.
Jude Winchester has already left the Sky Blues in this transfer window with a move to full-time football at Crusaders.
It has been a familiar tale, not always with a happy ending, with Shay McCartan, Adam Lecky and Johnny McMurray also leaving to join full-time set-ups.
Millar, who hammered home a classy winner — the only goal of the game against Warrenpoint Town on Saturday — has blossomed under Jeffrey and Bryan McLoughlin’s tutelage.
Other clubs are also rumoured to be on his trail while the Braidmen have offered the Cullybackey midfielder a new deal to stay at the club.
His display on Saturday was all the more remarkable as he came down with Covid a fortnight ago, which ruled him out of the previous weekend’s defeat by Linfield.
“He wasn’t free from isolation until Friday, he had Covid last week and we couldn’t have him at Windsor, and he is still feeling the after effects, but I thought he was absolutely magnificent,” said Jeffrey.
“I thought he was superb, how he led the side, and his legs were very heavy having been unwell, but I thought his performance was worthy of a man who is captaining his hometown club.”
However, he knows that it will be a battle to keep him and the frustration of critics sniping that this shows a lack of ambition has clearly been biting him.
“The reality is we know of the interest of other clubs, make absolutely no mistake in the club’s desire to keep Leroy here at Ballymena United,” he added.
“Ultimately it will be down to the player and people have got to get their heads round that. I am getting sick, sore and tired of people talking about us not having ambition.
“Shay McCartan wanted to leave Ballymena United, Jude Winchester wanted to leave Ballymena United, Adam Lecky wanted to leave Ballymena United and Jonathan McMurray wanted to leave Ballymena United. Do you want me to keep going on and on and on?
“All we can do is give him the very best offer. We have already approached Leroy about extending and we very much want him to be here.
“Ultimately it is not in my gift, it is Leroy’s and that’s just the nature of it.
“It’s ironic that since Bryan and I have been here, there have been a number of players who other clubs previously weren’t interested in and we bring them here and develop them and help them and we have to realise we can’t compete with clubs who are full-time and players who wish to go full-time.”
As for the match itself, Millar and Paul McElroy also hit the woodwork for the home team, but that only tells a small part of the tale.
Warrenpoint, with just two league wins all season, were right in the game throughout and with more composure from Luke Wade-Slater and Ray O’Sullivan could have gone home with at least a point.
“I’m very pleased, but don’t anyone think it was easy because it was as tough as you would ever wish against Warrenpoint Town and my goodness, gracious me am I glad we won’t be seeing them again for a week or two,” admitted Jeffrey.
“We’ve got a good group. At the start of the season it was difficult and we weren’t hiding behind the fact that we didn’t have players available through injury, slowly but surely, we’ve players back from injury, but today it’s like Emergency Ward 10 in there.
“But the character of the players was first class and they showed real resilience; a real battling performance.”
And it was a similar response from Town boss Barry Gray who was encouraged by his side’s display.
“Do we look like a team that’s beat? Absolutely not and that’s what we want to see every week given the position we are in,” he maintained
“We had three games this week — Crusaders last Saturday, the Mid-Ulster Cup final against Annagh and Ballymena on Saturday — and the performances in all three games were really good, against two top Premiership sides and a top Championship side.
“So you say to yourself there is a risk that if you keep turning in those performances and don’t get reward for it, in due course performance levels will start to dip, but where we are at the minute, we have to be confident in that and bring the good bits on in what we have seen and concentrate on them, so that we’re not too negative of the position that we’re in.
“We haven’t gained anything between us and Portadown, but we haven’t lost anything. We take the performance we had today and try and build on it for Tuesday.”
“All I can do is back the players.
“If they were absolutely rubbish today I’d be the first to come out and say they weren’t good enough we were second best all-over, but we weren’t.”
BALLYMENA UNITED: Johnston, McGrory (Place 64), Redman, Keeley, Rodgers, Barr (Nelson 64), Graham, Millar, McElroy, Parkhouse (Waide 64), McCullough.
Subs not used: Kane, Henderson, Bramall, Loughran.
WARRENPOINT TOWN: McMullan, R O’Sullivan, Ball, Byrne, Leddy, Hutchinson (Wixted 63), Dillon, Wade-Slater (Moorhouse 83), A O’Sullivan, McCaffrey (McKenna 76), Gallagher.
Subs not used: Coleman, Deasy, Peers, Shotayo.
Referee: Keith Kennedy (Lisburn)
Man of the match: Leroy Millar
Match rating: 6/10