Johstone's Paint Trophy preview: Southend vs. Millwall

© Millwall FC
© Millwall FC

MILLWALL welcome back a trio of players who missed the FA Cup second round defeat to Wycombe last weekend.

Centre-back Mark Beevers returns after his one-game ban while George Saville and Shane Ferguson are also available again after Wolves and Newcastle didn’t give them permission to play against the Chairboys.

Beevers is likely to take Sid Nelson’s place in Neill Harris’ starting XI.

Boss Harris must decide whether to bring Saville back into the side instead of Ben Thompson, who scored his first senior goal for the club at the weekend. Ferguson could also challenge Ed Upson for a starting spot.

Harris lives in Southend and played 52 games for the club between 2011 and 2013, scoring 10 goals. But he denied there is any extra personal motivation tonight.

“Not for me,” he stressed. “It’s a big game because it’s our next one. There’s a response needed after the disappointment on Saturday.

“It’s a cup semi-final and all I care about is winning the game, all I care about is my players winning the game.

“Southend are going to be competitive. At the end of the day it’s a cup semi-final and both of these clubs have taken this competition very seriously. We want to be in a cup final and need to be better than we were on Saturday.

“It’s a tight pitch, it’s an old-fashioned ground and a good place to play.

“They play at a high tempo and it’s going to be a battle, first and foremost. Physically we need to compete and then use our quality to be better in the opposition half than we were on Saturday.

“We know what Southend are good at and how we can affect them, we’ve been very diligent in that work, as ever.

“And then we’ll focus on ourselves and certainly using the ball better than we did on Saturday.”

Millwall lost 2-0 at home to Southend on September 19 when the away side scored with their only two shots on goal.

The Shrimpers haven’t lost in the league since a 3-0 defeat at Chesterfield in October 20 and are unbeaten in five games in all competitions.

Manager Phil Brown should be able to call on Gary Deegan and Lambeth-born Millwall fan Michael Timlin after both recovered from recent injuries.

Brown welcomed back his midfield pair, telling the Echo: “Trying to hold Gary Deegan back has been like trying to stop a juggernaut so it’s great he’s finally been given the green light to come back to training.

“Michael is another one who wants to make himself available for every game but he’s needed to rest his foot in order for the pain to go away.

“Obviously his links to Millwall were well documented when we played them before and with them being his local side he will be desperate to play against them again.”

Former Republic of Ireland striker Noel Hunt has just returned to training but probably won’t feature for Brown’s side until the League One meeting with Bradford on Saturday.

Form guide (Last five fixtures):

Southend: WDWWD

Millwall: WLWLL

Previous round:

Southend 1-0 Bristol Rovers

Plymouth 3-5 Millwall

Match odds:

Southend 19/10  Draw 23/10  Millwall 7/5

Probable Millwall team:

4-4-2: Archer; Edwards, Webster, Beevers, J Martin; O’Brien, Williams, Saville, Ferguson; Morison, Gregory.

John Kelly