New boy Will Vaulks admits he’s stepping into a whole new world after swapping Scottish side Falkirk for Rotherham United’s Championship challenge.
The 22-year-old midfielder is looking to force his way into the Millers team for their August 6 opening-day clash at home to Wolves after becoming manager Alan Stubbs’ fourth summer signing.
And he acknowledges the standard of football in England’s second tier will be much better than he’s ever known.
“It’s a mile away from the Scottish Championship,” he said. “We had a few big clubs, like Rangers, in the Scottish Championship, but in the Championship down here, with Newcastle, Norwich and others, there are loads of them.
“It’s going to be tough. I’m looking forward to the step up. Hopefully, I can fit in, play in some big games and get some good results.”
Vaulks starred on his debut as Rotherham slipped to a 2-1 defeat at League One Scunthorpe in their final pre-season friendly on Tuesday and hopes to make a big impression south of the border.
Three seasons with the Bairns made him one of Scottish football’s hottest prospects but the young Merseysider has never played a league match south of the border, having been released by Tranmere Rovers as a teenager.
“You’ve got to aim as high as possible,” he said. “In Scotland, my ambition was just to play as many games as I could and kind of get my name back again. I managed to do that.
“Now I want to bed in here, try to get in as many games as possible and see where that takes me.”
With the season only eight days away, Rotherham want to add to a squad which contains only 17 senior professionals and has suffered the long-term injury loss of striker Jonson Clark-Harris.
They moved quickly last week to snap up Vaulks, beating off competition from other Championship clubs to seal a £300,000-plus deal.
He began training with his new teammates this week, having already begun his 2016/17 campaign in Scotland.
“When I was up in Scotland, I had one competitive game, in the League Cup, and a few pre-season friendlies before coming down here,” he said.
“It would have been nice to get here a little bit earlier to have a bit more of a run before the league starts. Obviously, it’s important I fit in and bed in as quickly as possible if the manager is going to play me.”
Meanwhile, utility man Greg Halford was rested for the Scunthorpe clash after feeling his groin and being substituted in the preceding friendly, against Sunderland, last Saturday.
Boss Stubbs said: “His groin was still feeling a bit sore from the weekend and, rather than take any risks, we didn’t involve him.”
Centre-half Aimen Belaid hasn’t featured at all in pre-season but is stepping up his comeback after minor groin surgery.
“He’s actually not too far away,” Stubbs said. “He’s stepped up his training. He had a little reaction last Friday, but nothing that was going to keep him out.
“We’ve let it settle down and he’s done something in the last few days, so we’ll now look to progress him.”