STEVE Lomas has assured Steve Morison that he remains an important part of Millwall's plans despite starting just four games this season.
The striker, brought back to The Den from Leeds United on a season-long loan in the summer, has yet to play 90 minutes since returning from a hernia injury in September.
But Lomas has challenged Morison, who has made key contributions in games when he has come off the bench, to force his way into the side.
"You've got to remember that Steve had a double hernia operation so we're waiting for him to really get going," Lomas said. "Unfortunately we'd had three good results prior to the Bolton game so we couldn't change the team and he has had to be patient.
"He's been a bit unlucky in terms of the system we are playing too. After he came back from surgery we got three wins and that formation served us well.
"We then had two poor results but bounced back with three draws against some tops sides, so it has been very hard for me to change things.
"Maybe he has suffered a little bit because of that but we're hoping Steve will hit full speed, get in the team and prove what a good signing he can be for us.
"Let's not forget that he has had an impact coming off the bench – he flicked the ball on for Jermaine Easter to score against QPR and again for Scott McDonald to win the penalty against Reading – so there is definitely a place for him. His challenge is to force his way into the team and stay there.
"You need a strong bench because when games are stretched, things are normally very close and your subs can change things. It didn't work out for us last Saturday – the game was stretched, we were 2-1 down but we couldn't quite get back into it – but it's key that who you bring on can score goals, and Steve certainly can."