JPT southern area final preview: Millwall vs. Oxford United

© Millwall FC
© Millwall FC

STEVE Morison should be fit to start for Millwall in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy southern section final against Oxford United on Thursday night.

The Lions captain felt his hamstring cramp as he scored the winner against Oldham last Saturday and was taken off by manager Neil Harris as a precaution.

Jed Wallace could make his home debut after he made an eye-catching start to his loan spell when he played a pivotal role in Lee Gregory’s opening goal at Boundary Park.

He also linked up well with Shaun Cummings and the defender was impressed with his new teammate.

“Everyone knows that Jed is a very good player,” Cummings said. “It’s just about knowing each other’s game so it’s easier to gel with someone. I think we’ve got that connection already so if we’re to play on the same side again we do have that understanding.”

Cummings will be part of a Millwall back five that has a settled look to it, and the right-back feels that having the experience and vocal presence of David Forde behind the defence is crucial.

“You always need that encouragement and information from everyone on the pitch,” he said. “But obviously coming from Fordey having organisational ability is always key to us keeping a clean sheet.

“It’s not hard to hear him on the pitch.”

With Wallace, Shane Ferguson and John Marquis all available, Harris has some tough decisions to make who to pick in the wide midfield areas and up front.

Meanwhile, Oxford have lost just once in their last 16 fixtures and four times in 34 games in all competitions this season.

They have already knocked Premier League (Swansea), Championship (Brentford) and League One (Swindon) sides out of cup competitions this season and possess a number of players coveted by clubs in the higher divisions.

Boss Michael Appleton played understrength sides in previous rounds of the JPT but, with Wembley a step away, he could select something approaching a full team, despite an important league game with Bristol Rovers on Sunday.

That could mean prized midfield assets Liam Sercombe and Kemar Roofe start after scoring the goals in the 3-2 win over Swansea. Another highly rated attacker, Callum O’Dowda, could also feature on the left wing.

Appleton has made his players aware of the attacking threat Millwall pose.

“They will want to have a strong end to the season and push for the play-offs, but in the meantime try and cement a place at Wembley, which will be fantastic for the club,” Appleton told Oxford Mail. “We’re no different in the sense that there’s an opportunity to have a day at Wembley and compete in a final. Again it comes down to wanting success.

“I expect them to play a very strong side. They get the ball into the strikers very early. They are very direct and have two strikers in Gregory and Morison who have great pedigree playing at a higher level.”

*The clash is live on Sky Sports 1 from 7.30pm.

Form guide (Last five fixtures):

Millwall: LLWLW

Oxford: LWDWW

Previous round:

Southend 0-2 Millwall

Oxford 3-2 Yeovil

Match odds:

Millwall 23/20  Draw 12/5  Oxford 23/10

Probable Millwall team:

Millwall: 4-4-2: Forde; Cummings, Webster, Beevers, J Martin; Wallace, Abdou, Williams, O’Brien; Gregory, Morison.

Last meeting:

League Cup first round, August 12, 2003

Millwall 0-1 Oxford

John Kelly