LEE Gregory did not start in last night's cup tie against Southampton because he is "too close to the first team", manager Ian Holloway has revealed.
Gregory had been expected to lead the line for the Lions but John Marquis was picked ahead of him. Holloway named Gregory on the bench but decided not to bring him on.
However, the Millwall boss explained that he did not want to play the striker with an important Championship fixture coming up against Blackpool this weekend.
"Gregory is too close to the first team to start," Holloway said.
"I was tempted to put him on but he has caught up to this level over pre-season from being a non-league player training twice a week.
"That's phenomenal. I believe he's going to score, he's just got to settle down and he will score. I was pleased with Marquis’ effort."
Despite matching Southampton in general play, the Lions created few clear-cut chances.
Holloway added: "I told Jermaine Easter to shoot more and he nearly got a goal immediately – if that’d gone it, it would have been a different story because we’d have gained more energy.
"I couldn’t ask for much more but I thought 1-0 would have done it – I don’t think they were two goals better than us.
"But you saw their experience because they stepped onto us in the second half. They looked at what we were doing and caught us out a few times.
"Is that their manager being clever? Probably? But is it Jack Cork coming on, the quality that they’ve got and as getting a little bit tired?
"I think it’s a combination of both really.
"The beautiful thing about it is that we played a different way – we've never played that team before – and it almost looked quite good.
"Our fans stayed on at the end to give our boys a round of applause, which is pretty unusual if we lose. Marc Bircham apparently got booed here when he won 1-0!"