Winger Anthony Forde is on a festive mission to repay the faith shown in him by Rotherham United caretaker boss Paul Warne.
Forde found himself out of favour under the previous regimes of Alan Stubbs and Kenny Jackett, but was brought back into the side as soon as Warne took over the hot-seat late last month.
“For a while I wasn’t playing and I felt like I should have been really,” said the 23-year-old who was signed from Walsall in the summer.
“I stayed positive and worked hard and I’ve got my chance now. Warney put me straight in. I know he thought I should have been playing in previous games. I respect him for that.”
Warne’s reign and Forde’s return has seen an upturn in form for the Championship’s bottom side and the Irishman is targeting goals and points at home to Wigan Athletic on Boxing Day and Burton Albion on Thursday.
The Latics are only one place above the Millers while Albion are just outside the drop zone, and Forde said: “They are two good games to have.
“I feel like I can help the team. Hopefully, I can pop up with a goal or two in the next few games and try to get us three points. I think we can get some good results over Christmas.”
Warne’s four matches at the helm have see improved performances in three single-goal away defeats and a New York Stadium victory over QPR, and Forde is delighted the interim boss looks set for a longer spell in charge.
“Warney has energy and enthusiasm,” he said. “Everything about him is positive. He tells you things straight and he’s to the point.
“He treats everyone the same. Everyone likes him. He’s serious when he has to be. He has a laugh when he can.
“I’m enjoying it more the last few weeks, obviously, because I’m playing. Things have picked up under Warney and everyone is a lot happier.
“The way we have been playing, if we build on what we’ve been doing, we should be okay and hopefully get some wins.”
Wigan boss Warren Joyce is aware of the danger posed by the Millers under Warne and his backroom staff of assistant boss John Breckin and first-team coach Matt Hamshaw.
“We know that Rotherham are quite a direct team,” he said. “They’ve got some threats, people who’ve scored goals this year, and we know that they’re capable of scoring.
“They work hard to pick up knock-downs and we’ve got to be on our toes to deal with that.”
Meanwhile, Rotherham’s new head of recruitment, Jamie Johnson, is already working closely with Warne as the January transfer window approaches.
“We have identified some targets for January and plans are well under way to try and bring some players in.”said the ex-Brighton and Hove Albion European scouting manager who has also had spells at Derby County, Millwall, Spurs and Sunderland.
Johnson will be responsible for setting up a new department focusing on recruitment and player analysis.
He added: “While we understand that January is very important, it is also vital that we quickly implement a long-term vision beyond the window to ensure that there is a structure which will benefit the club for years to come.”