JOINT Millwall U18 coach David Connolly believes having experience of playing at The Den will help the young Lions when they face London rivals Charlton in the FA Youth Cup third round at The Valley tonight.
Millwall face a daunting task to make it through to the next round against a side that have scored 39 goals in 15 league games this season.
But Connolly is adamant that the strong set-up at youth level and wins in previous rounds against Dover (2-0) and the 9-1 hammering of Woodbridge Town will stand to the youngsters.
“For the majority of them it was their first time playing at The Den,” Connolly explained. “But we stress to them it’s the same – two goals, 22 players but just a few more people there wanting them to do well.
“We didn’t need the statistics to tell us but we had nearly 70 per cent possession, 30 shots against Dover.
“We’ve got really good staff. Larry (McAvoy), who I’m working alongside jointly, is a brilliant coach. That’s a real bonus because I’d never met Larry prior to taking the job.
“We’ve got really good support staff, (goalkeeping coach) Seb Barton, Ian Jones, the fitness coach. And obviously Scott (Fitzgerald) oversees it all.”
Millwall are currently in eighth place in the U18 Professional Development League Two table, with 14 points from 12 games.
Connolly says he is happy in his first job in coaching, and outlined the extent of the work that goes into laying the foundations to achieve results.
“I’m really enjoying the coaching side, the planning and preparing" he said. "Before the first round we went to see Dover, we travelled a long way on the motorway to watch them and back after.
“We’re trying to do things the right way. We do a lot of video analysis and reports on opponents. We work a lot on the strengths of our players and try to improve them. Since the start of the season we’ve really come on in terms of how we play, how we want to be a possession team that can penetrate.
“We’re going to the likes of Hull and Birmingham. We’ve had a lot of injuries which has affected results but that’s helped with the development of other players.
“I’ve really enjoyed being part of it all.”
Kick-off at The Valley tonight is 7pm.