Harris: Williams' importance to Millwall recognised by teammates

© Millwall FC
© Millwall FC

MILLWALL boss Neil Harris thinks it's "strange" that Shaun Williams receives as much criticism as he does from supporters.

However, Harris believes the majority of fans recognise Williams' value and pointed to his performance in the 3-0 win over Walsall last weekend as evidence of his importance to the side.

Williams set up Lee Gregory's second goal and Millwall's third at the Bescot Stadium with a pinpoint through ball. He was also involved in winning the late penalty that Gregory missed in the 1-1 draw against Crewe.

The Irish midfielder had already demonstrated his technical class in that game when he carved out chances for Gregory and Aiden O'Brien with two accurate long passes over the Railwaymen's defence that the forwards failed to convert, and Harris insists that kind of ability does not go unnoticed by his teammates.

"It's a strange one with Willo," Harris said. "What I will say about the football crowds is that 8,000 people support somebody, but 50 people are negative and you hear the 50.

"I think his importance to the team and his appreciation by his teammates is there for all to see. For any home or away fan who was at Walsall it was worth the entrance fee to see his pass to Lee Gregory for the third goal.

"He's a great fella and has done really well for us this year. He's another one that could easily have doubled his goal tally by now. He's been unlucky with shots blocked on the line, hitting the woodwork and then seeing a shot saved by the keeper at the end of the first half on Saturday."

Meanwhile, Jack Powell travelled to Walsall last weekend but missed out on the matchday squad.

Powell has started only one league game this season, against Chesterfield in August, and last played for the first team in the first round of the FA Cup against AFC Fylde.

Powell, who turned 22 last month, was given his debut by Harris' predecessor Ian Holloway in August 2014. Harris feels that Powell's lack of first-team action this season is indicative of the strong level of competition in the squad for a midfield place.

"Jack's has had a period now where he's been behind Jimmy (Abdou) and Shaun who've played a lot of football," Harris said. "Ben Thompson's done really well in the middle of the park and is chomping at the bit for his opportunity.

"Ed Upson came in at Oxford and did really well. Jack's been kicking his heels, he wants to get back in the first-team squad.

"We took him to Walsall at the weekend with Shaun Williams being a doubt right up until the last minute. Jack would've come into the 18, but with the form that certain players are in and if people are fit I can only pick 18 players. Jack is just on the periphery at the minute."

John Kelly