A year on from a successful survival campaign, Richie Smallwood believes Rotherham United’s squad has improved and that those who went through the emotions of last season have learned some key lessons.
Despite a potentially damaging 4-1 defeat against Charlton Athletic seven days ago, confidence remains high according to the 25-year-old and today’s game against Bolton Wanderers offers Rotherham an opportunity to right last weekend’s wrongs.
Unfortunately for Neil Redfearn’s team, this is no longer the Trotters side that was written off before December was done.
They have stepped up their performances, kept their best players and capped it off with a win and a draw from their last two league outings.
It has given the indebted club a glimmer of hope that their second-tier status could be preserved.
Smallwood wants to extinguish that particular flame.
“There is obviously a big run of fixtures coming up, which started with Charlton on Saturday, which did not go the way we planned,” he said.
“Hopefully we can get back on track on Saturday in another big game at the bottom.
“Since we beat Bolton at home, I think they have put some good performances in. Even just before that.
“They got a decent result the other night, so I’m sure their confidence will be starting to grow.
“We will be hoping to crush that on Saturday with a win for ourselves.”
Rotherham were one of the more active sides in the Championship over January, bringing in seven players on either permanent or loan deals.
Smallwood has highlighted the loan addition of Chris Burke from Nottingham Forest as a huge addition to the squad.
“I think the signings that have come in are quality and an improvement at this level,” he said.
“Chris has been around for a long time, he has been at a lot of top clubs and he has been a good addition.
“The other lads have not quite hit the ground running yet, they’ve only been involved in one or two games. Hopefully we can get them going. Everyone is a big asset in this squad.
“I think we were in a worse state last year, but I’m not too sure. We look at it, we are still out of the bottom three.
“If we keep getting a few wins we can get ourselves out of it. The quality we have brought in and the experience as well makes it a stronger squad.”