The player who couldn’t force his way into the side when Neil Redfearn took over as manager is now one of the first names on the team sheet for Rotherham United.
Left midfielder Joe Newell was injured when Redfearn replaced Steve Evans as boss in October and then found himself behind others in the queue for a first-team shirt.
But the 22-year-old earned a starting place for the win at Leeds United in late November and, after three goals in six games, is now a key man for the Millers.
“He had an injury and it has taken time for him to get over his injury,” Redfearn said. “He knows he is going to get picked now. He is always in. He gets picked and he knows it, so maybe he has got that bit of belief that he knows he is trusted.”
Newell, signed in the summer from Peterborough United, headed the winner at Elland Road, scored against Wolves earlier this month and fired in a spectacular goal in the 2-0 triumph over high-flying Hull City last Saturday.
He will be looking to continue his good form on Boxing Day when Rotherham have a chance to climb out of the bottom three of the Championship against bottom club Bolton Wanderers.
The match at AESSEAL New York Stadium is heading for a sell-out and Rotherham are in contact with Bolton Wanderers over ticket sales in a bid to make sure no seats are wasted.
Newell’s goal against the Tigers at New York was a spectacular effort and he almost scored an even better one when a mazy run and dribble ended with an off-balance shot just wide of the left-hand post as he was being pulled back by an opponent.
“We know about his ability and we know that, with each game that has gone on, we are getting a better and better Joe Newell,” Redfearn added. “I thought he was a different class against Hull.
“The run he went on when he went past three or four players ... if that had finished in the back of the net, that would have been some goal.
“He put a shift in, he dealt with the ball in tight situations. He is a real asset for us.”
The Millers will be without midfielder Luke Hyam for the Trotters clash after he was recalled earlier this week from his loan spell by parent club Ipswich Town.
“If I had no ideas or thoughts of him being involved for us, I wouldn’t have brought him back,” said Town boss Mick McCarthy.
“He’ll be involved in the squad on Saturday. It may well be that he’s on the bench for us because we’ve been going well. But we’ve got three big games coming up and I probably need all the help I can get. He’s just such an all-round combative player who puts his foot in.
He’s gone and got some game time.
“Rotherham were delighted with him, but I want him around here. We’ve got three tough games coming up and he adds to the squad.”
Bolton boss Neil Lennon, still in charge after an internal club probe into newspaper reports about his private life, described the Boxing Day showdown as “a huge game” and believes Wanderers can stay up this season.
“This isn’t done by a long chalk,” he said. “Leicester were bottom of the Premier League at this time last year, but look at them now. It can be done – and we believe we can still do it.”
Bolton have drawn their last two matches, against Charlton and Fulham, and Lennon added: “We are starting to play with a bit more verve and attacking thrust. That gives me a bit more cause for encouragement.
“Rotherham is another huge game in the context of the season. I know they won against Hull City, and that was a great result for them, but we’ll be buoyed by our own performances in the last couple of games.”