Millwall's Harris: Youngsters' work ethic forged in academy

© Millwall FC
© Millwall FC

NEIL Harris says he is not getting “carried away” after watching his side win two games in a row for the first time this season.

Aiden O’Brien helped clinch the points against Crewe with a spectacular hat-trick, but in-form Port Vale will test Millwall's unbeaten away record on Tuesday.

The Lions have picked up all seven of their league points on the road this season and travel to their Sky Bet League One rivals buoyed by a positive start to September after enduring a poor August.

And Harris believes he is slowly getting the balance of the side right.

He said: “We spoke after the Peterborough game and we asked them, ‘Do we want to play Saturday?’ and the boys said ‘Yeah, we’d love to’.

“So we decided to use that momentum all week. Sometimes you can go flat in the international break but the boys didn’t have more time off than we would normally give them.

“They worked hard in the sessions we did because we wanted to build on the Peterborough performance.

“We still have a lot to learn. It’s a young group that is getting an opportunity to play in the first team and they are going to make mistakes.

“But if the experienced players perform as they did against Peterborough and Crewe then that will guide the youngsters through what can be difficult times.

“I though the mix and blend and the quality of performance last time was spot on.”

O’Brien scored three goals on the ground where Harris broke Millwall’s goalscoring record in January 2009. The former Ireland U21 forward said his third – when he worked an opening for a shot with some fine footwork to outwit three or four Crewe defenders – was his favourite, but Harris picked out the first strike when O’Brien twisted his body to finish after Carlos Edwards’ run into the opponent’s box created the chance.

The Millwall boss also insists his young players will stay grounded as they assume more important roles in the first team.

“I think it was an excellent hat-trick,” Harris said of his striker’s finishing. “I was as pleased with the first goal in the six-yard box as I was with the second and third goals. The second and third goals I see him score in training all the time.

“The first one, if anybody was to say anything negative about Aiden it would be that he doesn’t score enough goals in the penalty area. But he answered that against Crewe.

“It gives him a platform and the team a platform to kick on. Aiden’s still not 100 percent fit. He was a big loss to us in the first few games of the season because he links the lines so well.

“The more minutes he plays the better he will be.

“But we’re not carried away. He performed really well for us last year and what you get with Aiden and with Fred (Onyedinma), Sid (Nelson) and Ben (Thompson), you get performances like that and then you get performances that are not quite at the levels they set Saturday.

“We accept that and it’s how we improve them as a group.

“But what I will say about our youngsters is they’ve all got quality, they’ve all got a huge work ethic that’s been brought through our academy and they all want to get better.”

Harris is anticipating Millwall’s most difficult game of the season so far against Port Vale.

Rob Page’s side have also won their last two games and Harris admitted they will test Millwall’s recent revival.

“Tuesday will be our most difficult game so far," he admitted. "It’s going to be huge for us against a good, strong, organised team that will certainly match our work ethic.

“We’ll have to match that and then say to the boys we need the same thing again when we have the ball.”

John Kelly


13 thoughts on “Millwall's Harris: Youngsters' work ethic forged in academy

  • September 14, 2015 at 18:23

    Time to look forward to Vale.

    It's great to get a win but it's done and dusted.

    Get up this league - COYL!

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    • September 14, 2015 at 20:50

      @kitch: I said a few weeks ago when we lost we have a young talented squad that need at least 40 - 80 games to improve and become the real deal. What we need is patience when our young players make mistakes and things don't go out way. If O'brien Fred and Nelson can be allowed to grow and develop then we can be a force to be reckoned with!

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  • September 14, 2015 at 18:25

    With our Manager all the way on this one it's all about time and being patient and the Kids will come good . As long as people give Em a chance

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