The age gap is 12 years and they’ve known each other for only a few weeks ... but two of Rotherham United’s new boys are enjoying a blossoming partnership.
Danny Collins, 34 years old and a captaincy contender, and Tom Thorpe, the 22-year-old former Manchester United youth star, have shown up so well in central defence together this summer that many observers are tipping manager Steve Evans to make them his first-choice pairing for the start of the Championship season next week.
The duo’s latest outing was on Wednesday against Premier League Leicester City, and they may well be along side each other again this afternoon when the Millers wrap up their pre-season preparations at AESSEAL New York Stadium against Bundesliga outfit FSV Mainz 05.
“I have played a couple of times with Tom,” said Collins, who joined the Millers last month after leaving Nottingham Forest.
“He’s obviously a young lad, and played a lot of reserve-team games at Man United, but he has got quite a wise head on his shoulders for a young lad.
“I talk to him every day. He’s learning and he’s slotted in along side me well. With me being the older man, it’s about getting him experience, I speak to him every day in training. We have had a few chats.”
Evans has made 11 signings since the end of last season, with the likelihood that two more new faces will arrive shortly.
Collins, who has spent virtually all his career in the second tier or Premier League, has already seen enough to believe there are better things to come than last term’s 21st-placed survival finish.
“Last year’s aim was for Rotherham to retain their place in the Championship,” he said, “This year The Gaffer has brought several new faces in and from our point of view midtable would be a good shout if we could achieve it.
“I don’t know where the bookies see us at, but as a group ourselves we look around the camp and see good players with good ability. We know on our day we have got lads with ability to hurt teams.
“Greg (Halford) is the prime example, I have played with him at a couple of clubs now, Forest and Sunderland, where he has played a couple of positions, right-back, centre-back, up front and occasionally in midfield, so he is like the Phil Neville of Rotherham.
“For The Gaffer its good to have some versatility in the squad. We’ve got good options up front, we have five or six strikers. There is good competition out there, and that is going to see us push each other in training.”
The club plan to announce their new skipper next week, and Collins would be happy to take over the armband vacated by the departed Craig Morgan if given the call.
“The Gaffer mentioned during the tour of Scotland that he had two or three faces that he was looking at and he was going to discuss it with the rest of the staff,” he said.
“I have captained at Forest and Sunderland, If The Gaffer sees me as captain, we’ll have to wait and see. He hasn’t actually said, but I got the armband against Leicester. If asked to do the job, certainly I’d step up.”
Mainz, who average home gates of more than 30,000, finished 11th in the German top flight last season and have beaten Italian side Lazio 3-0 already this summer.