TONY Craig admitted he would have preferred more games before being trust into the Millwall starting line-up for the first time since October against Barnsley at Wembley on Sunday.
Craig was warming up with the substitutes when he got word from Neil Harris he would start after Byron Webster’s hamstring problem flared up again.
Webster had started 28 consecutive games for Millwall, but looked devastated as he left the pitch with club physio Bobby Bacic a half an hour before kick-off.
That meant a first start for Craig since the serious knee injury he suffered against Bradford on October 31.
And the Lions started in the worst possible way, conceding inside three minutes when Ashley Fletcher shot low past Jordan Archer before going two goals down when Adam Hammill found the top corner in the 19th minute.
Craig was pleased with how Millwall responded when Mark Beevers halved the deficit 10 minutes before half-time. But he admitted his side had given themselves too much to do and Lloyd Isgrove sealed the win for Barnsley when he headed Conor Hourihane’s corner past Archer in the 74th minute.
“Ideally I would have liked a few more games under my belt,” Craig said after the defeat. “That was my first 90 minutes in seven months which is a long, long time.
“It was unfortunate for Webby but I had to adjust quickly and get my mind ready for the game.”
“We got off to a really slow start and Barnsley took advantage of it.
“It was an uphill battle from there. We showed good character to get back into it, but it just didn’t drop for us (Sunday).
Craig also paid tribute to Barnsley, who completed their own remarkable rejuvenation, rising from the relegation zone in December to clinch a place in the Championship.
“On days like this you’ve just got to give the opposition credit," Craig said. "They did a job on us and they were victorious.
“We can take nothing away from them and just have to congratulate them.”
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