Joe Newell is bending boss Paul Warne’s ear as he bids to win a regular start in central midfield for Rotherham United.
Newell has scored twice in his last two outings to press his claims on the pitch and isn’t slow to state his case with his manager off the field as well.
“I have these conversations with the gaffer quite a lot,” the 24-year-old revealed after scoring the opener in last Saturday’s clash at Oxford United and playing a key role in the Kieffer Moore goal that secured a 3-3 draw.
“He knows I’d prefer to be in the centre, purely because I can get on the ball more. When you’re out wide, you’re reliant on other people getting you into the game.”
Newell is usually deployed on the left flank by Warne and, through a mix of inconsistency and injury, has even found himself out of the starting 11 in the opening stages of the season.
But Warne describes the midfielder as the most talented player in his squad and is liking what he is seeing following Newell’s wonder-strike as a second-half substitute at AFC Wimbledon a week ago and his impact as a central starter at the Kassam Stadium.
As well as scoring at Oxford, Newell produced a sublime, defence-splitting pass in the 78th minute to release Ryan Williams who teed up Moore to seal a comeback from 3-1 down.
“Joe Newell, at times, is absolute different gravy,” Warne said.
“His ability on the ball to set up the third goal with a bit of calm was great. Newell was worth his weight in gold with the ball at his feet. It was a great pass for the third goal, then Willo’s done everything right and it’s an easy tap-in for Kieffer.”
The boss has decisions to make in midfield ahead of Saturday’s visit of Gillingham, with Newell, Williams, Jon Taylor, Darren Potter, Richie Towell, Anthony Forde and captain Lee Frecklington - if he recovers from a back issue - vying for starting berths.
Taylor made his return after a month-long injury absence as a sub at against Oxford, replacing Towell in the 68th minute.
“We lacked a little bit of pace in the middle of the park,” Warne said. “Richie wasn’t having a bad game, but I needed something different and that’s why I put Tayls in.
“It just gave us a bit more impetus. He was definitely busy! It was like had had been in a cupboard for three years. He was pretty keen!”
The Millers, who go into the Gills test in fifth place, will be without Will Vaulks at the weekend as the midfielder serves a one-match ban for accumulating five bookings.