Rotherham United: Redfearn goal challenge to Millers ace Newell

Boss Neil Redfearn has set free-scoring midfield ace Joe Newell a double-figure goal target as Rotherham United go in search of a third successive Championship victory.

Joe Newell
Joe Newell

Newell will start for the Millers at Fulham tonight having scored four times in his last seven matches.

And Redfearn, who has led his side out of the bottom three with victories over Hull City and Bolton Wanderers, believes the 22-year-old is capable of hitting 10 or more goals this season.

“I said to him the other week ‘Can you get double figures?’ and he was laughing because he had two at the time,” the Millers manager said.

“But he has got great ability and a fantastic left foot. He has got a way with him where he seems to pop up in space in the box, so I don’t see why not.”

If Rotherham earn three points tonight, it will be the first time since they returned to the second tier in 2014 that they have won three league matches on the trot.

Newell, a summer buy from Peterborough United, opened his account at Leeds United on November 21 and has since been on the mark against Wolves, Hull and Bolton.

Neil Redfearn

While the left midfielder has been prolific at one end, the Millers have tightened up at the other, and four wins in their last seven games have all been accompanied by clean sheets.

Centre-half Kirk Broadfoot has been instrumental in that record and is another certain starter tonight as Redfearn looks to keep faith with the same side that destroyed the Trotters 4-0 on Boxing Day.

“The ideal scenario is that if it’s not broke don’t fix it,” the Rotherham boss said.

With Stephen Kelly and Leon Best nursing injuries, Lewis Buxton not featuring because of a contractual issue and several players out on loan, Redfearn’s options are limited.

Kirk Broadfoot

“We have not go a lot to play with,” the boss said. “We had 20 players on Boxing Day. Take the 11 and the subs out, that’s 18, and you’ve not got a lot left.”

Fulham, in 18th place and three points better off than the Millers, have just appointed a new manager, Slavisa Jokanovic, who led Watford into the top flight last season.

Rotherham’s first-team squad were given Sunday off before training yesterday and then travelling to the capital for this evening’s clash.

“Sometimes a rest when they are lying in their own beds is as important as getting them in,” Redfearn said. “But when you are playing well and winning, you want to play.”

“As a group, it’s quite a young and certain individuals are starting to flower. People like Joe and Grant Ward are really buying into it and you can see it.”

The triumph over Bolton saw Rotherham leave the drop zone for the first time since Redfearn took over in October, but the 50-year-old is refusing to get carried away with his side’s upturn.

“We’re upbeat about what we are doing but we all know things can change pretty quickly in football,” he said. “One minute you’re down, next minute you’re up. We have just got to tough it out until the end of the season. If we keep doing the right things then we will keep picking up points.”

Striker Danny Ward, a scorer against Neil Lennon’s side, said: “Now we are out of it, we need to keep looking forward and head towards the top half.

“When the gaffer came in, we started a bit slow, but everything is seeming to click now.”

Danny Ward

This evening’s game sees Rotherham come up against old boy Ben Pringle. The midfielder joined the Cottagers in pre-season and scored in their 3-1 win at AESSEAL New York Stadium in August but has been on the bench in recent games.