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Harris pleased with progress in Millwall's youth ranks

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IAN Holloway wants to turn Millwall into a "seamless" club.

His ambition is for the Lions’ youth teams to play the same style of football as the senior side.

Rather than rely on a short-term loan signing to cover an injury, Holloway would prefer to promote from within – as long as the player making the step up is ready.

U21s boss Neil Harris is therfore a vital cog in the Millwall machine.

His job is to prepare the club’s rising stars for the first-team environment, and get them following Holloway's philosophy from a young age.

It's been just over a year since Harris returned to The Den as a coach and the Lions legend believes huge strides are being made.

"That has progressed massively," he said. "It really helped that some of the players went away with the first team in pre-season.

"I've been able to watch quite a few of Ollie’s training sessions and then deliver his message and way of doing things not just to the U21s but to the U18s as well.

"I've also been able to pick the brains of Ollie and Marc Bircham about organisation and structure.

"Sometimes it takes time for these things to feed down but it feels like we'e making huge progress and quite quickly.

"We feel that progress is paying off now with the likes of Jack Powell and Fred Onyedinma playing senior games this year.

"A couple of other guys have also been given the opportunity to come off the bench and play.

"The club has come a long way in a few years. We're now at a stage where the young lads, if they're good enough and perform to a high standard, they're given an opportunity."

The U21s have lost their last three games – to Nottingham Forest, QPR and Leeds – but Harris does not read too much into results.

He said: "It's important that we don't lose sight of the fact that these games are about development.

"Yes, it's lovely to win and that breeds confidence, but my sole aim is to prepare players to be ready to step into Ollie's first team.

"Those are our thoughts as a club with regards to the U21s. When they go onto the pitch it's not about winning the game, it's about whether they do things the Millwall way.

"Do they get their team structure right? Are they in the right positions? Do they cover each other? Are they playing in the same style as the first team?

"If our young players are doing those things, then Ollie will consider them good enough to make the step up to his squad. That's the main aim.

"We do like to get results but, win or lose, we need the lads to get into the right habits."

Alex Aldridge

(@accordingtoaldo)

6 thoughts on “Harris pleased with progress in Millwall's youth ranks

  • September 24, 2014 at 14:54
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    I was wondering if Mr Harris would take some time out of his busy schedule and have a word or 50 with the strikers and show them where the goal was...thank you

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    • September 24, 2014 at 18:25
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      @vonhardshaft: gregory played in bombers side .hope he put in a bit of training with SUPER neil

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      • September 24, 2014 at 21:23
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        In my opinion I think that having Harris training the U21 and having Gregory is only a good think. Only Bomber has an idea of what it really means to play for Millwall and what it means to us. I think it will benefit Gregory being mentored and can see a bright future.

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  • September 24, 2014 at 19:04
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    I am all in on this long term acadamy planning by Ollie and his willingness to play youth. I think he shows an understanding of the financial constraints our club has in relation to other teams and he is making the best use of our resources. Ultimately he primes Harris as manager and a bunch of young players for the next decade at the club

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  • September 24, 2014 at 19:08
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    Bomber is doing a great job with the U21 side. Just look at the amount of players coming through already. Given another year or so we'll look even better building the club from the bottom up is the best way to take the club forward. Even if they don't make the grade of our 1st team at least we should nick a couple of quid for them selling them to a smaller outfit.

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  • September 24, 2014 at 23:51
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    Fantastic to have someone like NH in charge of the kids. Knows millwall outside in. Imo doing a sterling job and long may it continue. Learning his trade himself but a cert Aw future gaffer for us.

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