Joe Newell talks to www.themillers.co.uk...
Many football aficionados remark that the football season is a “marathon not a sprint” and while many players will be donning the flip-flops, sun cream and heading off into sunnier climes soon enough, Millers midfielder Joe Newell makes no secret of the fact that he is hoping that Rotherham’s League One campaign extends into late May – with a League One play-off berth up for grabs.
Despite a fantastic unbeaten run either side of the year, a top-two finish looks beyond Paul Warne’s side. However, the carrot of a Wembley appearance is well within their sights, as the Millers aim to bounce back to the Championship at the first time of asking, via the backdoor of the play-offs.
With just three games of the regular season left, Newell concedes that while his side have work ahead to consolidate their top-six standing - he is excited at being involved in the business end of the season – with all still to play for.
“Football is exciting for so many reasons. At the end of the season you want to be playing for something and we are right in the thick of it,” Newell enthused.
“Every game is so important and you don’t want to be floating around in mid-table, with little to play for. These are the games we love and the games we want to be involved with.
“If you go up via the play-offs, it’s the best way to go up. Hopefully, if we keep going and get back to winning ways we can cement our place in the play-offs. That’s the target.
“Wembley is our country’s pinnacle to play at and to play in a final with so much to play for would be unbelievable, but we have so much work ahead to get in the play-offs. We have to focus on the next few games and try and secure our play-off spot.”
With Warne blessed with a multitude of playing options, in particular in the wide attacking areas of the pitch, Newell has often found himself on the periphery of the starting line-up - with the likes of Newell, Ryan Williams, Anthony Forde and Jon Taylor vying for two coveted positions.
Newell’s superb understanding with full-back Joe Mattock often gives him the edge of the left-hand side of the midfield while his quality from dead ball and crossing areas is not in question.
However, Newell recognises that no Millers player can take their starting spot for granted – with all squad members likely to play their part in the season defining weeks of the season.
“There has been fierce competition all year,” Newell insisted.
“There are so many good players in this squad. The gaffer has got problems every week in the amount of quality he has at his disposal. We all just have to be ready when called upon and try and encourage each other. No-one is begrudging anyone else or feeling left out. Everyone is behind each other so it’s a good squad to be involved with.”