Boss Harris puts faith and trust in Millwall kids

© Millwall FC
© Millwall FC

MILLWALL MANAGER Neil Harris has no regrets about operating a significantly smaller Millwall squad this season – despite a lengthening injury list with three League One games remaining in the campaign.

The Lions could go into Saturday’s clash with Bury without Lee Gregory and Steve Morison, who have scored a combined 40 goals this season.

Shane Ferguson is also a doubt with a thigh strain.

Gregory has been carrying an abdominal injury for some time, while Morison has been troubled by a hamstring problem.

Aiden O’Brien, 22, and 19-year-old Jamie Philpot will likely start up front against the Shakers if the first-choice front pairing miss out.

Fred Onyedinma, 19, is an option to start if Ferguson doesn’t recover from the injury he picked up in the 2-1 defeat to Coventry last weekend.

Millwall had six players aged 23 or under on the pitch for a spell during the second half of the 1-0 win against Fleetwood on Tuesday night. Kris Twardek, who was on the bench against Steven Pressley’s side, was the 16th player developed through the club’s current underage structure to have featured in a matchday squad this season.

Millwall used a total of 42 players in all competitions last season but so far this campaign the equivalent figure stands at 29. Harris believes maintaining a smaller first-team squad is key to building “camaraderie and team spirit”.

Asked also if he was worried about the potential for injuries to affect a possible play-off campaign, Harris said: “We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. I’ll certainly look forward to having that conversation if it means we’re in the play-offs.

The Millwall boss added: “We’ve got a small squad, and you do that because you want camaraderie and team spirit and because you have faith and trust in the young players. I’ve no problem whatsoever playing those players in pressure situations.

“The games come thick and fast and a lot of players have played a lot of minutes. There are going to be tired limbs and niggles at the moment.

“I think, like a lot of teams at this level that run with smaller squads, you patch people up and look at putting the best team you can out there.

“I’ll digest (the Fleetwood) game, assess those that played and those that didn’t and come Friday we’ll look at who’s fit and who’s available.

“Certain players will be off on Wednesday, some players will be in preparing for Saturday. Straight away the focus is looking at that game and how we can become better. All that’s important is Bury on Saturday. It’s going to be one of the toughest away fixtures of the season against a side with a really good home record.

“But whatever team I put out there will be competitive, will be aggressive and we’ll certainly be going there to get three points.”

John Kelly