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Play-off final preview: Bradford City vs. Millwall

NEIL Harris could name the same Millwall side as the one that started the second leg of the play-off semi-final for the League One decider against Bradford at Wembley on Saturday.

Harris usually picks his starting XI the day before the game, and the only difficult selection decision would seem to be who to play on the left side of midfield.

Aiden O’Brien has scored 15 times this season, but the quality of Shane Ferguson’s set-piece delivery led to three goals in the 4-3 win over Bristol Rovers on the last day of the League One season. O'Brien started in that 3-2 win at Scunthorpe.

Defender Shaun Hutchinson played with a cracked rib against the Iron, but as long as he came through training this week he will start alongside Byron Webster in the centre of Millwall’s defence.

The only absentee from Harris’ first-choice squad could be Shaun Cummings, who has a hamstring problem, with Mahlon Romeo set to continue at right-back.

Millwall will stay in a hotel in London on Friday night before travelling to Wembley on Saturday.

Bradford boss Stuart McCall, meanwhile, revealed his team have been training on a pitch whose dimensions were adjusted to match Wembley’s.

The Wembley pitch is almost 10 per cent bigger than Valley Parade’s. Steve Morison said earlier this week that it is a “myth” that there are wider spaces at the home of English football, and from his side's point of view the Wembley surface is just 0.5 per cent bigger than the one at The Den.

McCall tailored his squad's preparations accordingly.

“We had the training pitch widened by five yards this week so we’d got the full dimensions of what it will be,” McCall told Telegraph & Argus.

“People will say, ‘you’re on a football pitch, it’s 11 v 11’ but the size and quality of the surface can also alter the way you play yourself.

“Even when I look back to the home game against Millwall [a 1-1 draw], when I thought we did really well, it was a bumpy and tight park. It is going to be different.

“Morison is probably right [when comparing Wembley] with Millwall but certainly not at Valley Parade.

“We have quite a narrow pitch, maybe not compared to a lot of clubs, but it doesn’t match theirs. But we do know the condition of the park is going to be immaculate.”

McCall is hoping attacker Alex Jones will be fit to start. Alex Gilliead and Matt Kilgallon are also available.

McCall said: “Jones has been looking sharp and Gilly and Killa managed to get themselves back and have had a lot of training. There are a few things to take into account.

“Everyone has taken up the challenge. The level of performance and desire has been excellent.

“I genuinely believe the group of players and the squad deserve to be at Wembley. We’ve been one of the best four sides in the league.

“I’m not saying we deserve to be in the Championship. That will all depend on what we do tomorrow.”

Sky Bet League One play-off final

Bradford City vs. Millwall

Wembley Stadium

Saturday May 20 Kick-off: 3pm

Millwall record against Bradford

Played 47

Won 18 Drawn 19 Lost 10

Form guide

Bradford: LWDWD

Millwall: LLWDW

Probable teams

Bradford: 4-3-3: 1 Doyle; 29 McMahon, 23 McArdle, 22 Knight-Percival, 3 Meredith; 6 Vincelot, 14 Cullen, 4 Law; 19 Jones, 9 Wyke, 7 Marshall.

Millwall: 4-4-2: 1 Archer; 12 Romeo, 17 Webster, 4 Hutchinson, 5 Craig; 14 Wallace, 26 Abdou, 6 Williams, 22 O’Brien; 9 Gregory, 22 Morison.

This season’s meetings  

September 3:  Millwall 1 (Martin 49’) Bradford 1 (Webster 42’ og)

Millwall: Archer; Romeo, Webster, Craig, Martin; Worrall, Thompson, Williams, Wylde (Onyedinma, 65); Morison, O'Brien.

Bradford: Doyle; Darby, Vincelot, Knight-Percival, Meredith; Devine, Dieng, Law; Marshall, B Clarke, Hiwula-Mayifuila (Morais, 75).

January 21: Bradford 1 (Meredith 60’) Millwall 1 (Gregory 50’)

Bradford: Doyle; Knight-Percival, McArdle, Kilgallon (Dieng, 32); McMahon, Law (B Clarke, 78), Vincelot, Cullen, Meredith; Marshall, Jones (Hiwula-Mayifuila 67).

Millwall: Archer; Cummings, Webster, Cooper, Craig; Onyedinma (Wallace, 69), Thompson, Williams, O'Brien (Ferguson, 69); Gregory, Morison.

Match odds

In 90 minutes: Bradford 9/5 Draw 13/8 Millwall 11/8

To be promoted: Bradford 10/11 Millwall 10/11

Selected others

Lee Gregory to score and Millwall to win in 90 minutes 5/1

To win to nil: Bradford 7/2 Millwall 3/1

To win from behind: Bradford 16/1 Millwall 16/1

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly

(@jkelly1882)