Rooney: Millwall youth policy the reason I signed

PAUL Rooney said Neil Harris' policy of giving young players a chance was crucial to his decision to join Millwall.

Rooney made his Lions debut when he partnered Shaun Hutchinson in the centre of defence in the 3-1 win over Luton on Tuesday night.

Nineteen-year-old Rooney said the pace of the game was much quicker than what he has been used to playing in the U23s, and he admitted the moment Isaac Vassell got through to test Tom King early in the second half illustrated that.

"I was delighted with the 3-1 win but disappointed about the goal," Rooney said. "Other than that it was a great start.

"I felt a bit nervous but I was ready for it as well. I just wanted to try to show what I could do and play well. It's a lot sharper, some things I'd be able to read in the U23s but for their first chance King made a great save after I tried to step in when maybe I shouldn't have. I probably needed to hold the position, listen to the older lads.

"But it's good to play against those players, it makes you a better player.

"You're not used to the surroundings but it's 90 minutes of football and you just have to show what you can do.

"I didn't expect to be in and around the first team as quickly as I am but I'm delighted I am. It's been a good start and I need to keep it going.

"That's one of the main reasons I came here, (Harris) bringing through Ben Thompson and Aiden O'Brien and other boys from the academy. It gives you a really good chance, there's hunger to try to get into the first team."

Rooney's team-mate in the U23 side Harry Smith also made his first appearance in the senior side and scored a late double to clinch three points.

"I was delighted, me and Harry get on really well," Rooney said. "They were two good goals, he took them well.

"We can connect with each other given where we came from. We sit beside each other in the changing room as well.

"Anything around his head or chest area he wins, he's just a monster. He literally wins nearly every single ball. You can't see the ball, he has such a big frame and once it comes up to him he has a good leap."

Image source: ©Millwall FC

John Kelly