Rotherham United: Millers open talks over new contract for Joe Newell
Promotion-chasing Rotherham United have launched their bid to keep in-form winger Joe Newell at the club beyond this season.
The 24-year-old, who has been a major attacking weapon in the League One Millers’ 13-match unbeaten run, is out of contract in the summer.
Rotherham are ready to offer him a new deal and the player has intimated that he would be happy too remain in South Yorkshire after three years at AESSEAL New York Stadium.
“Newelly is in the team and playing really well,” manager Paul Warne said. “We have made contact with his agent and he has given us signs that Newelly wants to stay.
“That is hopefully something we can do in the next few weeks. We have started the ball rolling.”
Newell, with 105 appearances to his name since joining for a six-figure fee from Peterborough United in 2015, is set to start tomorrow’s New York derby against Doncaster Rovers when the fourth-placed Millers will be gunning for a seventh successive win.
He wasn’t a guaranteed starter at the beginning of the season but has added consistency to his undoubted talent, scoring twice in his last five outings and at times destroying the opposition down Rotherham’s left flank as Warne’s men have closed on the top three.
The Millers have won 10 games and drawn three since their last loss, at Bristol Rovers in early December, but are refusing to be carried away by their longest run without defeat since the 16-match sequence achieved under Steve Evans in the 2013/15 third-tier promotion campaign.
“If you have a scale of zero to 10 and 10 is the most confident you can be and when you’re on a losing run you start at zero, I reckon, as a group, the players are on a seven,” Warne said.
“They don’t think they’re unbeatable but they also know that when they walk out on to the pitch they’re all in good shape.
“When I played in promotion teams, you always knew the opposition had to play really well to beat you. When you’re on a losing streak, you think ‘this is going in’ every time the opposition attack. Now, the players have less fear of losing.
“As a management staff, we don’t put immense pressure on the lads to win. They’re in a good place. They think they’re competitive against anyone at the moment.”
The manager again played down the prospect of Rotherham catching the division’s three pace-setters.
They are seven points adrift of leaders Blackburn Rovers and six points behind Shrewsbury Town who are second. Third-placed Wigan Athletic are four points in front of them with three matches in hand.
“It would be a complete lie if I said I don’t look at the top of the table,” Warne said. “I know Shrewsbury are having a little bit of a wobble, but Blackburn and Wigan aren’t. Wigan’s FA Cup run might distract them but it might work the other way.
“If we win on Saturday, great. If the top three don’t win, even better. But we’re not even in the play-offs officially yet.
“If there were four games left and we were three points off the top two and definitely in the play-offs, we could have a go. But at the minute we haven’t achieved anything.”
Meanwhile, centre-half Richard Wood is looking for more goals after grabbing the winner and knocking Shrewsbury out of top spot last weekend.
The captain is always a threat at set-pieces and poked home Michael Ihiekwe’s 44th-minute header at New Meadow.
“I just try to cause problems in the opposition box,” he said. “The gaffer calls me ‘the battering ram’. I just want to get in there, get under the ball and put my body on the line.
“I should score more. It’s my 50p-shaped head!”