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Play-off semi-final preview: Millwall vs. Scunthorpe

IF Millwall are over the bug that struck them in their hotel in Bristol last weekend then Neil Harris will have a fully fit squad to choose from for the first leg of their play-off semi-final against Scunthorpe.

Jed Wallace and Calum Butcher were worst-affected and were left out of the match-day squad, while Lee Gregory, Jordan Archer, Jimmy Abdou and Aiden O’Brien were also ill before and during their 4-3 win over Bristol Rovers.

Shaun Hutchinson is the only other doubt, and though he admitted playing despite a cracked rib causes him some pain, Millwall’s match-winner at Memorial Stadium should be okay to start in the centre of defence alongside Byron Webster.

Harris will have to decide whether to go with the goal threat of O’Brien at The Den on Thursday night – the attacker has struck 15 times this season – or retain Shane Ferguson, who demonstrated again his set-piece ability by taking corners that led to three of Millwall’s goals against the Pirates.

The other main decisions are Shaun Cummings or Mahlon Romeo at right-back, and Jimmy Abdou or Ben Thompson to partner Shaun Williams in midfield. Cummings and Abdou did little against Bristol Rovers to suggest they could be dropped to the bench against the Iron.

While Millwall were leaving it late to clinch sixth last Sunday, Scunthorpe scored twice in the last six minutes to beat Coventry City 3-1 and move ahead of Fleetwood to finish third in the table.

Scunthorpe were top of the table on Boxing Day, but failed to win in nine games in February and March.

Graham Alexander’s side recovered to win seven of their last nine games of the season, including five in a row after their 3-1 defeat at The Den in April.

Millwall have the experience of reaching last season’s play-off final, but there is also plenty of experience in the Scunthorpe camp.

Alexander was in the Burnley side that won the Championship play-off final in 2009, the same year David Mirfin played for Scunthorpe in their 3-2 win over Millwall in the League One decider.

Striker Paddy Madden played alongside Webster when Yeovil shocked Brentford to win promotion to the second tier for the first time in the club's history in 2013, and Ivan Toney came on in the 81st minute when Barnsley denied the Lions at Wembley last year.

Veteran Iron midfielder Neal Bishop is confident of his side’s chances against Millwall.

“Over the course of 46 games we’ve finished as the third best team, and that’s a good progression on seventh last season,” the 35-year-old told Scunthorpe’s official website.

“Everyone knows we had a sticky two or three months, and we couldn’t put our finger on what went wrong.

“It wasn’t just the supporters who were frustrated, it was everyone. We put our heads down, and tried to get some form back, which we have done.

“Millwall have got a lot of play-off experience, so it’s going to be difficult couple of games, but something we are relishing.”

Scunthorpe will be without Charlie Goode, Matt Crooks and Tom Hopper for Thursday's clash.

Sky Bet League One play-off semi-final first leg

Millwall vs. Scunthorpe

Thursday, May 4 Kick-off 7.45pm

Millwall record against Scunthorpe 

Played 23

Won 7 Drawn 5 Lost 11

Form guide

Millwall: DWLLW

Scunthorpe: WWWW

Probable teams

Millwall: 4-4-2: Archer; Cummings, Webster, Hutchinson, Craig; Wallace, Abdou, Williams, Ferguson; Gregory, Morison.

Scunthorpe: 4-4-2: Daniels; Clarke, Mirfin, Wallace, Townsend; Holmes, Dawson, Bishop, Morris; Madden, Toney.

Meetings this season

December 17

Scunthorpe 3-0 Millwall

April 1

Millwall 3-1 Scunthorpe

Match odds

Millwall 1/1 Draw 12/5 Scunthorpe 14/5

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly

(@jkelly1882)