The ease with which Mahlon Romeo made the transition to the first team last weekend shows Millwall’s vision of a strong link between the underage structure and the senior side is bearing fruit, says manager Neil Harris.
Romeo, 20, scored the second goal in the 3-0 win over Walsall on only his second start in professional football.
The former Gillingham defender became the ninth player groomed in the U21s to play for the senior team this season, while another four have been named in matchday squads.
Romeo (above, celebrating his goal with Sid Nelson) was also named in the League One team of the week as Millwall comprehensively defeated the second-placed Saddlers.
“It’s quite easy for Mahlon because he’s been outstanding for the U21s,” Harris explained. “What we do with the first team and the U21s is they play the same style, the same formation, the majority of them train with the first team most days.
“The styles of play mirror each other so if a player in the U21s is stepping into the same position in the first team then they know their responsibilities. I think we saw that with Mahlon on Saturday.
“The fact that he’s been travelling with the squad, the fact that he’s been involved with the squad and trained with the group for a period of time now made it quite easy for him to settle in and for me to say to him, ‘Just play the same way you do for the U21s.”
Harris also took time to praise 20-year-old Sid Nelson, another one of those thirteen U21s to impact the first team this season.
“Sid’s a young man but we’ve spoken a lot about his communication and organisational skills which, for a young man, are excellent,” Harris said. “Him and Mahlon being good friends helps.
“Having Sid and also Byron Webster, who has really come of age as a leader in the group in recent months, leading that back line is certainly a big help.”