Harris to keep Millwall fans guessing over starting XI

NEIL Harris says he has seen no signs the Millwall players are carrying any baggage with them after the disappointment of missing out on a place in the Championship last season.

The Lions lost to Barnsley in May’s League One play-off decider but won their first three pre-season friendlies, before a young and inexperienced side went down 2-0 to Dover last Tuesday.

Harris did his transfer business early in the summer, with David Worrall, Shaun Hutchinson and Gregg Wylde added to the squad in time for the pre-season training trip to Portugal.

And the Lions boss is delighted with how preparations have gone ahead of Saturday’s friendly clash with Brentford and the league opener with Oldham seven days later.

“It’s been exceptional, to be honest,” Harris said. “It was a short break for us and any doubt of hangovers or disappointment hasn’t been there. It was great from day one, you could sense it from the players.

“It’s been bubbly, lively, like they haven’t been away. There was good focus from day one, the players came back extremely fit. The new players have fit in fantastically well, they’re great characters.

“The young players have come back looking to stake a claim, some staked a claim last year and want to continue. Everybody’s chomping at the bit to get going and it’s going to be tough to pick the 11 players against Brentford. That’s good for me as a manager.”

Harris named a strong side in the 3-2 win over Crawley last weekend, but he said the XI that starts against Brentford won’t necessarily provide hints as to his first-choice side.

Harris explained: “At this point in time it’s more about people needing minutes, trying different combinations, some of the new lads need some minutes playing at The Den because they haven’t played there before. It won’t be the team you see against Oldham on Saturday.”

Meanwhile, Harris paid tribute to his former team-mate and current captain Tony Craig ahead of the defender’s testimonial against the Bees this weekend.

“What a guy, what a professional,” Harris said. “People that are committed to the club, people that enjoy playing for the club, that’s what the fans appreciate. Tony falls into line with Robbo (Paul Robinson), Dunney (Alan Dunne), myself, none of us have been the best players. But put on a Millwall shirt we’ve all got the same characteristics, you give everything you’ve got.

“It’s a great honour for him, it’s a very proud moment for his family. It’ll be brilliant for the boys to be involved in, any testimonial I’ve played in I’ve loved it. It’s a special build-up to the game for your team-mate.

“It’ll be a good day and it’ll be a good test for us on the pitch.”

Image source ©Millwall FC

John Kelly