If anyone epitomises a new positive vibe around Doncaster Rovers, it’s Matty Blair.
The 27-year-old has not had it easy of late. He was out for nine months last year after suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury, and he gained a new perspective on life when his brother Ross was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2014.
But after swapping Mansfield Town for Rovers this summer, and battling back to full fitness, the former Fleetwood Town and York City midfielder is all smiles ahead of the new season.
“I’m loving it. I think it’s been a fantastic decision to come here and everyone’s made me feel really welcome,” Blair told the Free Press.
“The lads have made me feel like I’ve known then for years. I’ve got to know how the gaffer works pretty quickly too.
“The attitude of the lads is first class. It’s very professional round the place, it’s very positive and there’s a good vibe. Everybody wants to work for each other and help each other.
“Going off the example of Leicester last season, that’s the number one key component for a football team.
“I’ve felt that sort of spirit in the group already and it can only get stronger.
“It can be difficult sometimes to bring in a lot of new faces and get everyone to gel as well as we all have, so credit to the staff for that.”
Having won promotion from League Two via the play-offs with Fleetwood in 2014, Blair is well qualified to comment on what is waiting for Rovers in the fourth tier of English football.
He said: “You can expect a bit of everything in League Two. Expect the unexpected!
“Any team can beat anybody on their day. It’s all about preparation, commitment and determination on the day. It’s a hard league to get out of but we’re more than capable of doing that.
“Everyone knows the minimum requirement this season is promotion,” he added.
“Obviously it’s easier said than done, but it’s a case of let’s just go and do it.
“We’ve just got to deal with the expectation. It shouldn’t change how we play our football or how much we enjoy it. The more you enjoy it, the better you play, the better the performances, the better the results - it all links in. So go and enjoy yourself, work hard and we’ll be okay.”
Enjoyment is clearly key for Blair, particularly after his prolonged spell on the sidelines.
And the versatile midfielder insists he’ll be happy just to see his name on teamsheet come Saturday - in any position!
“The injury kept me out for nine months but I had a very good rehab and recovery programme,” he said.
“I got to the end of last season fit and strong and playing every game for Mansfield. Now I’m ready to go again, really kick-on and get my career back on track.
“I’ve played a bit at wing back during pre-season and people have called it the ‘graveyard shift’ but if we’re sitting top of the league and I’m playing every minute I don’t care what shift I’m on!
“I’ll play wherever I’m needed. I’ll go in goal if I have to! I’ll try my best wherever I am, that’s all I can do, and enjoy it along the way.”