MILLWALL wanted to keep Diego Fabbrini but the decision to cut-short his loan spell at The Den was taken "out of their hands" by his parent club Watford.
The Hornets exercised their right to recall Fabbrini just 90 minutes before the emergency loan window closed in the Football League last Thursday.
The Italian, who had not started a game since Neil Harris' appointment as interim manager, swiftly moved to Birmingham City instead.
The Italian international had become a popular figure on the terraces during his time in south London and Harris confirmed that he'd wanted Fabbrini to stay.
But the Lions were ultimately powerless to prevent him from leaving.
"Watford got in touch at 3.30pm, just before the deadline, to say they were recalling their player and sending him off to somewhere else because he was going to start games," Harris said.
"We would've liked Diego to stay because he gave us something slightly different to what we've got.
"We asked if he could stay with us but ultimately Diego decided that he wanted to be back on the other side of London, because of family reasons, and also that he thought his opportunities here would be fewer.
"Diego only had three games left on his loan – and one of those would have been against Watford, which he couldn't play in.
"The decision was taken out of our hands by Watford, which is fine because he is their player.
"We were slightly disappointed that they decided to call him back because we'd have liked to have kept him.
"We couldn't force the issue and make him stay, we could only ask the question. Watford made the decision and Diego went along with it because he thought he'd get more chances to play at Birmingham.
"We wish him all the best and thank him for what he's done for Millwall.
"Diego understood that the team had done really well and that he might have to be patient by coming off the bench, producing something and then getting a start.
"He's a great fella who wanted to play."
Harris considered bringing in a last-minute replacement for Fabbrini but fought a losing battle against the clock.
"We're always open to strengthening," he said.
"We did look at a few options but decided to go with what we've got and give a few of our younger lads an opportunity. We didn't want to block up a pathway for anyone.
"There's no blame attached to Watford but by the time Diego's recall was finalised at 4pm, we didn't have time to get anything done."