Newcastle United v Rotherham United: ‘Home’ comforts allow Richard O’Donnell to back Millers escape bid

Richard O'Donnell has returned to his South Yorkshire roots with Rotherham United. Picture submitted.
Richard O'Donnell has returned to his South Yorkshire roots with Rotherham United. Picture submitted.
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Richard O’Donnell is relishing the challenge of helping Rotherham United stay in the Championship.

The Millers’ new goalkeeper could have been forgiven for opting to stay at the relative safety of Bristol City, rather than join a club stranded at the bottom of the table.

Rotherham are nine points off fourth-bottom Burton Albion and face a daunting trip to Newcastle United today.

But O’Donnell is no stranger to relegation battles – he helped Bristol City escape the bottom three after joining 12 months ago – and is eager to get started.

“The league position doesn’t really bother me,” said 28-year-old O’Donnell. “I had a similar situation when I joined for Bristol City, we were five or six points adrift at about the same time last year and we ended up finishing in mid-table.

“I am not going to come in here and be negative about the situation, everyone knows what it is.

“The last thing the club needs is for me to come in every day being negative.

“I genuinely believe that we can get out of it. The club had a great result against Norwich last week, why can’t that be the starting point of a great run.

“It’s a nice one to get started with, everyone knows what Newcastle are about, they are a great team.

“I have played them already at home this season, so I know what they are about, I am going to be busy if selected.”

Sheffield-born O’Donnell – a product of Sheffield Wednesday’s Academy – will be up against Lewis Price for the No 1 jersey, with Lee Camp ruled out for the season with a knee injury.

Since leaving Hillsborough in 2012, O’Donnell has had a nomadic career with spells at Chesterfield, Stockport, Walsall and Wigan. He has signed a Millers deal until 2019 and sees a return to his native South Yorkshire as “coming home”.

“For me to come back home it is nice to get that length of contract,” he said.

“Hopefully I can repay that faith and do really well.

“I wasn’t necessarily looking to come back north, but to play football was my target.

“This is perfect though, I have a baby on the way in nine weeks and have a little boy already so this really makes perfect sense for me.

“The reason I have had quite a lot of clubs is because I want to play games.

“The fact I have a good chance of playing games here was part of the reason I came and I am just raring to go now.”