Joe Newell talks to www.themillers.co.uk...
Supporters around the country were fixated on club websites just over a week ago, as they eagerly anticipated the release of the 2018/19 fixtures, keen to see where and when their teams would be facing local rivals and other high-profile divisional foes.
It was no different for Rotherham United midfielder Joe Newell, who says his eyes were peeled for two fixtures in particular, while the prospect of being involved in South Yorkshire derbies against the two Sheffield clubs is also a prospect he is relishing.
“I looked for two. First of all the Birmingham games and then Villa because I was injured last time we played at Villa Park and a lot of my mates support them, so I'm buzzing to go there,” he told www.themillers.co.uk.
“Obviously my team is Birmingham and when we play there it's a big highlight for me.
“They were the first two I looked for and then you've got the Wednesday and United games and Leeds, but if you look at the fixture list it's a big team every week. It's so good to play in the big stadiums, in front of big crowds and against big clubs and it's what we've all worked so hard for last year."
The 25-year-old was part of the 2016/17 squad who suffered a turbulent season in the second tier last time the Millers were involved, but he believes that he and his teammates are better equipped this time around and there will be players with a point to prove in 2018/19.
“The fact that there was a few of us in that team as well means there are a number of us that feel like we have something to prove and I'm sure the gaffer will as well,” Newell continued.
“He was thrown in at the deep end last time we were in the Championship and he'll want to right a few wrongs as much as we do. Hopefully it'll be a lot different to last time.”
With the season fast approaching, work continues off the field to bring in new faces to the club and Newell, who has is now one of the club’s longer-serving players, is looking forward to getting to know any new arrivals in between Austrian hill running and the pre-season fixtures.
“I think the gaffer will bring people in that he thinks will fit in with us as a group,” he explained.
“Pre-season is always a good time to get new people integrated into the group and they'll come away to Austria with us and sing a song for us and hopefully the gaffer will let them have a few drink at the end of the week and we'll get to know them even better.
“I'm sure as a group we will make anyone feel welcome.”