MILLWALL midfielder Jimmy Abdou acknowledges he faces a battle to win back his place in Neil Harris’ starting XI with just six matches remaining in the Lions' Sky Bet League One season.
Abdou was a regular in the side before he went to captain Comoros in their 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying fixtures at the end of March.
The 31-year-old had formed a dynamic midfield partnership with Ben Thompson before his departure, but Shaun Williams has played the last three matches.
Abdou was back in Millwall’s squad for last weekend’s 0-0 draw at Colchester as Harris stuck with the pairing of Thompson and Williams.
Abdou praised Williams for his performances recently, but admitted the latest round in the international calendar came at the wrong time from a personal viewpoint.
“We were doing really well as a team before I left,” Abdou said. “But Shaun came in and did brilliantly.
“That’s football and I have to be calm and try to get back into the team for the last few games of the season.
“I came back last week with flu, but I feel okay now.”
Harris has almost a full squad to choose from for this weekend’s clash with Shrewsbury, with only Shaun Cummings out long term but with club skipper Tony Craig edging closer to a first-team return.
Harris questioned some of the younger players’ focus before the match with the U’s, and Abdou, in his eighth season with Millwall, believes it is his and some of the older players’ responsibility to advise their more inexperienced team-mates.
“I’ve got a good relationship with the young lads and I try to encourage them,” Abdou said. “I can learn from them as well. They’re just starting and it’s nice to see players coming through the ranks. It’s a great achievement for the club and for them.
“I was like them but you change with experience and I’ve seen a lot more things. You can take nothing for granted when you win. You have to measure yourself and go back again. That’s what I try to say to them as well.
“We’ve got six matches left now and we have to finish the job.”
Abdou talks about the experience of captaining Comoros to the first competitive win in their history in this Thursday’s Southwark News.