Fully-fit Mills on revenge mission

Reporter: Keith McHugh
Date published: 12 August 2015

MARAUDING left-back Joseph Mills is fully fit and looking forward to testing himself against Championship opposition tonight.

For the second season in a row, Middlesbrough come to Park for a Capital One Cup first-round tie. And Mills, ruled out of a lengthy part of the back end of last term with a calf injury, believes he can play a key role in Athletic avenging Boro’s 3-0 victory 12 months ago.

He said: “Whatever team is picked will give their all. There will be a lot of different players involved and we will go into it focusing on us. We know what we can do on our day, especially at home, and if the fans get behind us we can get a positive result.”

Mills is fulsome in his praise of the Athletic faithful at Walsall: “They were awesome. After going 1-0 down they spurred us on and we could have nicked it towards the end.”

Mills, who describes himself as “fully fit” after a good pre-season, feels Athletic are not only equipped to perform well tonight, but also throughout the season.

“If you look through the spine of the squad it’s a lot similar to last year. We have made a few good additions and we have the basis of a very good squad. If everyone can stay fit we can have a long and successful season.”

Mills is currently in possession of the left-back shirt, but knows he has to stay on his toes with Connor Brown — who replaced him during injury last year — breathing down his neck.

Said Mills: “You can’t regard any spot as yours. Obviously, if there is a run of poor results, things change. Connor is very settled at either right back or left back, so I am not taking anything for granted.”

Athletic finished last season in the bottom half of the table after threatened in the play-offs at one stage. Mills is confident the team will do much better this time: “That’s what everybody in our changing room thinks we can do, so why not, if we can get off to a good start and maintain that?”

He and the rest of the team have a healthy respect for new manager Darren Kelly.

He said: “It’s been really good. We had a brief chat one-on-one and he put across to each player what he expects from us and from himself. The lads have really taken that on board.”

And the recent signing of the skilful and experienced David Dunn can only be positive, said Mills.

“You only have to look at Saturday’s performance,” he said. “He was outstanding when he came on. He has vast experience and if any of the young lads want to speak to him he is very approachable.”

twitter: @KeithMcHughOC