Defender Martin believes Millwall in false league position

© Millwall FC
© Millwall FC

JOE Martin is surprised by the form of former club Gillingham – and he insisted Millwall have more quality in their squad.

Martin left the Gills to join Millwall in the summer but had to wait more than three months for his competitive debut after picking up an ankle injury in pre-season.

Justin Edinburgh’s side finished in 12th place in League One last season but are part of an unexpected pack that includes Walsall, Burton and Bury setting the pace at the front this season.

Gillingham are just a point off the top of the table having already won almost half as many games as they did in the entire of last season, and they are 10 points ahead of Millwall.

The sides won’t clash in the league until December but by that stage Martin thinks the table could have a different complexion.

“It is a little bit of a surprise,” the defender admitted. “I’d be honest and say that coming to Millwall there is quite a difference in the standard of players that are here.

“They’ve been on a good run and have had a bit of luck and they’ve got a good team, but their squad is nowhere near as good as ours. I think by Christmas or maybe a bit after that it’ll probably level itself out and you’ll have a better perspective of where clubs really are.”

Martin is back in contention to start a league game for the first time since damaging a hamstring while playing for Gillingham against Chesterfield last March.

And he is looking forward to sampling a noisier Den than the relatively subdued atmosphere that accompanied his debut.

He said: “Even though there were only about 2,000 at the Northampton game, when they get going they still have a bit about them.

“In the league you’re playing in front of 8,000 so hopefully I’ll get there and experience the real Den atmosphere.”

Martin made a couple of important interceptions against Chris Wilder’s side and, with Swindon expected to play a possession-based game this Saturday, the 26-year-old believes it’s crucial that Millwall don’t deviate from their own approach.

He explained: “It’s tempting if the other team has the ball to leave your shape and go chasing it, especially at The Den where you want to be putting tackles in and you don’t want other teams to just come and have the ball.

“Teams will come here and try and frustrate us and use the crowd against us. But I think the gaffer’s right in what he’s saying – that we’ve got to stick to our game plan and not let teams frustrate us.”

John Kelly