NEIL Harris has praised his squad for their work ethic, saying players are “dead on their feet” after every game.
Millwall are currently a point off the Sky Bet League One play-off places, and have the advantage with 20 games left that they won’t face any more league games away from home on Tuesday nights.
That could be crucial this season given the recovery periods involved and the high work rate Harris demands.
The Millwall boss picked out his two first-choice midfielders Jimmy Abdou and Shaun Williams after the 3-1 win over Port Vale last Sunday as typifying the ethos he and his management team have tried to create this season.
He also said Williams has had to get used to different tactical requirements this campaign.
“Our two central midfielders work tirelessly,” Harris said. “Jimmy gets the attention sometimes because he covers the ground quickly. Shaun doesn’t cover the ground as quickly, but he still covers the ground.
“He’s a ball-playing midfielder and I’m asking him every week to try and add to his game by doing what he’s not naturally been taught to do over the years.
“He wants to play with the ball at this feet and sometimes we don’t play like that. We get the ball forward and we go and pick up second balls.
“And he’s learning. Every single week Shaun, and my whole squad, they leave nothing on that pitch. Yes, we make tactical substitutions and make changes to try and win games or get back in games, but most of the time it’s because my players are dead on their feet.
“I think one thing they give me every week is everything they’ve got.”
Similarities to the promotion season of 2009-10 are building. Millwall had 40 league points after 26 games then, the same total as now. They went into their next game at home to Southend in eighth place and climbed into the top six for only the second time that season up to then with a 2-0 win.
Millwall could find themselves in the play-off spots if they beat Chesterfield this weekend and Peterborough and Sheffield United fail to win, but Harris is refusing to make parallels with six years ago.
“I wouldn’t compare us to any other era or any other team that I’ve played in,” he said. “We’re a completely different bunch, a newly formed squad.
“We learn from our mistakes, me included. All I can do is try to make us better every single game.
“It’s key for us to be more consistent on a regular basis. That’ll give us more positive results and if we take care of that we’ll be in that top six at the end of the season.”