Harris: Absence of former Millwall transfer target was a boost

NEIL Harris said he was “delighted” that former Lions target James Hanson wasn’t in the Bradford team before the sides' 1-1 draw on Saturday.

Hanson was left out by his manager Stuart McCall after the Bantams’ League One rivals Sheffield United submitted a bid for him on Friday.

Harris was interested in signing Hanson, 29, in the summer of 2015, and Millwall made contact with Bradford to explore the possibility of recruiting him before then-boss Phil Parkinson stopped any potential move.

Millwall extended their unbeaten run to seven games at the weekend after Lee Gregory’s 50th-minute opener at Valley Parade was cancelled out by James Meredith, playing at left-wing back as Bradford changed to a 3-5-2 formation to try to counter the threat of Gregory and Steve Morison.

Harris said it wasn’t a surprise that Hanson – who is set to finalise his move to the Blades today – wasn’t in Stuart McCall’s starting XI.

“No, we didn’t expect him to play,” he admitted. “We get wind of things slightly before you guys (the press) sometimes.

“They played very well without him in the team.

“We didn’t maybe expect them to play three centre-halves against us, that was a bit of a surprise. He’s a super player, I was delighted he wasn’t on the teamsheet, I’m not going to lie to you.

“They’ve got some really good players, they’re a really good side. What’s key when you play against good sides is that you score when you’re on top. We didn’t quite do that first half but got our noses in front in the second half. Then when you are playing good sides you really have to stay focused and strong for 90 minutes.

“We switched off once, maybe twice. Once to allow (Nicky) Law to have a shot from 12 yards and the second one for the goal. I said to my young players you can’t switch off at all during 90 minutes because you get punished at this level and certainly when you go above.”

The result left Millwall five points off the top six after three successive league draws, and Harris wants to see his side bridge that gap after the FA Cup fourth-round tie at home to Watford next Saturday.

“I fancied us to come and win, but the point is important for us and keeps us unbeaten in seven,” Harris said. “It keeps us on the coattails of people above us. We've gone to a team above us in the league and not been beaten, that’s key.

“What we’ve got to do is enjoy next week’s cup game for what it is, a one-off, but really focus our minds on trying to win football matches to make sure that come the end of April we’re in the top six.”

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly