Double motivation for Millwall ahead of cup clash

MILLWALL boss Neil Harris is keeping his playing options open ahead of the FA Cup first-round clash with Southend on Friday night.

Harris has named the same starting XI for the last two games as Millwall defeated Fleetwood and Oxford, but could opt to give Shaun Hutchinson his first start in a Lions shirt.

Shaun Cummings also featured again as Millwall’s U23 side recorded their fifth successive win when they defeated Bristol City 4-0 in Monday.

Harry Smith scored his fifth goal of the season at Stoke Gifford, while defenders Paul Rooney and Christian Mbulu have also been in impressive form.

But Harris will not make wholesale changes to his team for a clash between two sides that have been in much better runs of form recently.

Millwall have won four of their last five games, while the Shrimpers have lost just one of their last eight.

Harris said: “We have to get the balance right with boys who haven’t been involved as much and have been doing well with the U23s and are knocking on the door.

“We need to give them the opportunity to impress. The U23s have been on a good run, and that gives me a lot to think about.

“Both (Millwall and Southend) are a lot stronger than they were five or six weeks ago. We’ve both been moving in the right direction.

“There is added spice because we’ve faced each other a lot in the last 18 months. They’ve already beaten us this season and we want to put that right.”

Harris and current academy boss Scott Fitzgerald were also in temporary charge of Millwall when the Lions lost 4-1 to then-League Two Southend in the third round of the FA Cup in 2014.

Harris and Fitzgerald were in their caretaker roles for three games at the end of December and start of January that season after Steve Lomas had been sacked and before the appointment of Ian Holloway.

But Harris believes Millwall have come a long way since that humiliation.

“It wasn’t pleasant,” Harris admitted. “The team was in disarray and there was unrest among players. It was a difficult time for everyone and difficult filling that gap between managers.

“But the whole complexion of the club has changed. What happened then has no bearing on this fixture.

“It’s a Friday night at The Den as well, there will be a really good atmosphere and we want to go through to the next round.

“We’re very much looking forward to it. It has the makings to be a really good cup tie.

“Southend will play a strong side. It’s a local game as well for both sets of fans, and they’ll bring a good number with them.”

Image source: ©Millwall FC

John Kelly