Rotherham United’s fixture list is akin to a baptism of fire for new manager Neil Redfearn.
After a first outing at Brentford, back-to-back home assignments against form sides Reading and Sheffield Wednesday have followed and next up are much-fancied Derby County – the third side who are at the top of the current Championship form table with the Royals and the Owls.
Little respite will be afforded on Tuesday either when the Millers visit Middlesbrough, who have lost just once at the Riverside Stadium since February.
Both Boro and Derby were bracketed as the promotion favourites in the summer following considerable spending sprees and after a slow start to the campaign, Paul Clement’s Rams are starting to flex their muscles.
But the Millers will certainly be conditioned to facing strong opposition, given their recent outings.
Redfearn, linked with a move for Hibernian striker Jason Cummings, said: “I know in my mind, there has got to be some perspec tive. We are playing the form teams of the division, definitely. And then there’s Middlesbrough, who have just knocked Man United out of the cup.
“We are coming into some tough games. But there have been some fine margins, with two 2-1s and a one apiece. There’s nothing in it.
“It is getting to that point now where you start tipping those points into your favour. That might mean bringing in some bodies to help the lads that are here.
“But the ones who come in have got to be of better quality. There’s no point bringing in players who are only as good or we will persevere with what we have got.”
Derby have won six of their last eight outings.
Their most recent victory came against Yorkshire opposition when a screamer from George Thorne saw them sink Huddersfield Town 2-1.
Redfearn is an unabashed fan of the Rams and, if he requires inspiration, he need only rewind just under a year to when his Leeds side humbled the Midlanders 2-0 with an outstanding team display.