NEIL Harris revealed Shaun Williams has been struggling with a back problem that kept him out of the starting XI as Millwall lost 3-1 to Port Vale on Tuesday night.
Williams started on the bench before coming on for Calum Butcher in the 64th minute at Vale Park.
Harris felt the influence of Williams, who has scored two goals this season, was missed as the Lions slumped to a third successive league defeat.
Harris said: “He’s had a bad back, he had it leading up to the game on Saturday and got through the 90 minutes. He struggled and didn’t train Sunday and Monday.
“As ever he put himself forward and I just felt that at times we were getting into good areas and were keeping the ball really well. I thought Willo’s ability to find that extra pass, and his bravery, would aid us and just as we were (preparing the substitution) the second goal goes in and we’re on the back foot.”
Millwall fell a goal behind to Port Vale in the fourth minute when Alex Jones punished some loose defending.
Harris' side were 3-0 down by the 71st minute before Lee Gregory grabbed a late consolation from the penalty spot.
Harris said there will be reflection on the defensive errors, but admitted the pattern of conceding sloppy goals is repeating itself as Millwall failed to win for the fifth successive league game.
“I didn’t think our shape without the ball was a problem,” Harris said. “We grew into the game despite the goal putting us on the back foot.
“In the first 15 or 20 minutes we made poor decisions but I thought we bossed the game for the rest of the first half. In the second half we had most of the play other than conceding the goals.
“We look back and learn from it, again, but it’s the same things again: create chances, score, but when you can’t keep a clean sheet you can’t win games of football.”
Image source: ©Millwall FC