Millwall midfielder won't rein in aggression

BEN Thompson admitted he was “devastated” with the first red card of his senior Millwall career – but he won’t change his abrasive style and he has his manager’s backing to keep playing the same way.

Thompson was sent off for two bookable offences in the 3-2 defeat to Rochdale on September 24, ruling him out of the defeat to Port Vale four days later.

He didn’t reclaim his place in the side immediately, instead coming on as a substitute in the 2-1 loss at Walsall, Millwall’s fourth successive league defeat.

Thompson felt his second booking for a foul on Rochdale’s Matthew Lund was harsh, but he has no intention of toning down his physical approach.

“When the referee blew the whistle I didn’t think it was a foul, no matter how many times I watched it again that night,” Thompson said. “I was devastated I got sent off, it was a horrible feeling. I watched it at home ten times and I’m looking at the ball the whole time. Not once did I look at the player or maliciously try to hurt him.

“But with my style of play I’m going to pick up yellow cards or red cards now and then, it’s part and parcel of what I do. I’m not going to pull out of a tackle but I’ll learn from this one.

“I’ve spoken to the manager a number of times about the way I play, what I should do and expect and he said, ‘You’re going to get yellow cards, you’re going to get sent off at some point, just don’t change the way you play’.

“I don’t intend to go out there and get sent off or hurt people. I play on the edge, so occasionally I’m going to mistime one.

“In training I’m a big softy, I don’t go in for tackles. Only on match-days.

“I actually didn’t go to the (Port Vale) game, I was sitting indoors updating my Twitter every few minutes checking on the boys.

“It’s the first time I’ve been sent off and missed a game. It was tough, the boys didn’t get a result and I couldn’t be there helping them out.”

Thompson turned 21 (last week), but kept celebrations low key with a family meal ahead of Millwall’s EFL Trophy fixture with Gillingham on Tuesday.

With his close circle all Millwall fans, he said they have been asking him about the side’s poor form in the league when at this stage they were expected to be challenging at the top end of the table instead of potentially facing being in the relegation zone by the time they play Northampton on Saturday.

After last season’s October international break, a nine-game unbeaten run helped propel the club to a successful top-six challenge.

And Thompson promised “there will be no rest” as they try to rediscover the same winning formula over the next ten days.

Thompson said: “We’ve got time to reflect, watch back over games and then practise on the training ground what we need to do.

“We’ve not played our best football in the last four games and confidence is lower than it should be, but after these 10 days we’ll be up for it and raring to go again.

“There will be no rest, no time to relax or stay at home. We’ll be out on the training ground working hard to make sure we put things right.

“Each game is a big game for us now in this period, we need to get back to winning ways. We’ll do our research on the next opponents and work hard to get the job done.”

*This article first appeared in Southwark News on October 6.

Image source: ©Millwall FC

John Kelly