Mixing it with the big boys has proved Rotherham United have what it takes to escape the Championship drop zone, reckons defender Dominic Ball.
The Millers are propping up the second tier after suffering four defeats in their last four games.
But performances levels improved significantly in their last two outings, against high-flying Huddersfield Town and Newcastle United, and the bottom club will soon start moving upwards, reckons the young centre-half.
“I think we all know that we can climb the table,” the 21-year-old said.
“Before, we didn’t have that consistency and were conceding too many goals. That doesn’t give a base from which to go on and win. Recently, in the last couple of games, we’ve stepped it up.”
Clashes with the Terriers and Toon brought 2-1 and 1-0 reverses respectively, and Ball says losing so narrowly and pushing two promotion contenders all the way shows what Alan Stubbs’ team is really made of.
“I know we’ve lost and it’s a disappointing,” he said. “But I always like to take the positives from things, and if we continue to put in those kind of performances we’re going to get results.”
Rotherham went into the international break with six points from their opening 11 fixtures.
But the two most recent displays have been a far cry from the poor showings that preceded them at Blackburn Rovers and at home to Cardiff City. Both those sides began proceedings against the Millers in last spot but proceeded to beat Stubbs’ men.
“We’ve really shown in our last two games against two of the top teams in this league that we can compete at this level,” Ball said.
The youngster moved to New York Stadium on a three-year-deal from Premier League Spurs in August and the central defender who can also play in midfield is adapting to his new life in South Yorkshire.
“I’m living in Sheffield. I’m more settled,” he said. “All the lads are great here and I think we’re really starting to gel now. We can definitely push up the table. That’s going to be the aim after the break, to carry this momentum on and get points.
“In the Championship, you can win or lose in every game, it’s that competitive. I think if we start getting more consistent performances like the one against Newcastle, we’re going to start picking up results.”
Rotherham return to action next Saturday at second-placed Norwich City.
There is good news on the injury front, with full-backs Stephen Kelly and Joe Mattock due to resume full training early next week.
Right-back Kelly has has a thigh problem while Mattock withdrew from the Newcastle showdown in the warm-up when he felt his calf tighten.
“The fact Joe didn’t play has probably avoided turning it into a full-on calf problem,” manager Stubbs said.
“Stephen has stepped up his recovery programme. We are hopeful that he will be back into full training at some point next week, maybe Monday or Tuesday.”
Centre-halves Kirk Broadfoot and Aimen Belaid, who have both been out for several weeks, are also expected to rejoin the main group after the weekend.