NEIL REDFEARN has revealed that he has set in-form Rotherham United midfielder Joe Newell a double-figure goal challenge for the new year.
Newell and his team-mates head to Fulham tonight, buoyed by impressive back-to-back home wins over Hull City and Bolton Wanderers, with the Millers chasing a hat-trick of consecutive victories in the second tier for the first time since December, 2003.
While the Millers’ team collective has helped yield the brace of recent triumphs, several players have made major contributions, including former Peterborough player Newell, who shone along with the likes of Grant Ward and Danny Ward against Wanderers on Boxing Day.
Newell has struck four goals in his past seven games and Redfearn is hoping it is a sign of things to come.
Redfearn, whose side jumped out of the relegation zone after beating Bolton, said: “As a group, it’s quite a young one and certain individuals are starting to flower.
“People like Joe Newell and Grant Ward are really buying into it and you can see it.
“I have said to Joe ‘can you get double figures?’ and he was laughing because he had two at the time, but why not?
“He has got great ability and a fantastic left foot. He has got a way with him where he seems to pop up in space in the box, so I don’t see why not.”
Opportunity knocks for the Millers with consecutive away games against sides not in the best form in Fulham and Preston, who are just above them in the table and ripe for being reeled in.
The Cottagers start life under new head coach Slavisa Jokanovic tonight, with the Serbian likely to be introduced to home fans ahead of kick-off.
One man who needs no introduction to Redfearn tonight is Ross McCormack, whom he knows all about from his time at Leeds, with the Millers chief mindful of the pressing need to keep him quiet.
Redfearn, who enjoyed one of the finest hours of his Leeds tenure at Craven Cottage last term, said: “Fulham probably have a top-six squad with people like Ross. I know him from first-hand and he is probably as prolific as you are going to get at this level.
“They have good players. Butthey are obviously going through a bit of change as they brought in a lot of players in the summer including (Ben) Pringle, who the Rotherham fans will know about and who I was interested in at Leeds.
“He is another who is capable on his day.”
Last six games: Fulham DLDLDL, Rotherham United WLLLWW.
Referee: S Hooper (Wiltshire).
Last time: Fulham 1 Rotherham United 1; April 15, 2015; Championship.