Rotherham United boss Alan Stubbs is demanding more from Joe Newell as the midfield man puts his injury woe behind him.
Newell has impressed in patches since returning to the side after a four-month absence brought on by ankle surgery.
And Stubbs now wants the talented 23-year-old to improve his consistency to help the Millers, who are at second-placed Norwich City this afternoon, in their bid to climb off the foot of the Championship table.
“I think he’s done okay. I would like to see Joe have more impact in games,” the manager said. “Sometimes when you’ve been out after having an operation, it doesn’t just come back overnight. It does take you three, four, five games when you’re coming back from a few months out to get your stride.”
Newell made his first appearance of the season at the end of August, coming on as a substitute at Barnsley, and has started in every subsequent match other than the September 17 trip to Blackburn Rovers where he missed out with a damaged hand.
“He’s shown glimpses in games where you can see that he’s got quality,” Stubbs added. “But I would like Joe to have an even greater impact in games for longer periods.
“It’s something we will work on, speak about and show Joe. Overall, yes, I’ve been pleased, but I think there’s room for improvement as well.”
The left midfielder is a likely starter at Carrow Road today as Rotherham look to avoid beginning their campaign with six successive away defeats.
Striker Dexter Blackstock, who joined the Millers in early September and is still waiting for his start, has improved his conditioning during the international break but is expected to be on the bench again against the Canaries.
“The two weeks have been good for him,” Stubbs said. “He’s had a couple of weeks where we’ve worked on topping up his fitness and he’s looked sharper in training. He’s not far away now from, potentially, getting a starting place.”
Two players Rotherham don’t have to worry about today are Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe and Tony Andreu, who both had loan spells at New York Stadium last season.
Odjidja-Ofoe has joined Polish side Legia Warsaw while Andreu is on loan at Dundee United.
Centre-half and key man Timm Klose is an injury concern for Norwich after hurting his ankle while on international duty with Switzerland.