We'll do better in the Championship than people think – Millwall defender

JAMES Meredith is confident Millwall can surprise a few people in the Championship next season.

The Lions will make their return to the second tier after two seasons in League One – and were immediately installed as one of the favourites to go straight back down.

Millwall clinched their place in the Championship with victory over Meredith’s Bradford in the League One play-off final in May, and the bookies are tipping them to struggle in a league containing the likes of Sunderland, who this week agreed to sell Jordan Pickford to Everton for £30million.

The Black Cats will reinvest most if not all of that cash in their squad. The fact that Aston Villa and Birmingham have held talks with former Chelsea captain John Terry also indicates the kind of pulling power Millwall are up against.

But Meredith is not intimated ahead of the new campaign, and believes Millwall’s home form is crucial to survival.

“Looking at it on paper, everyone will assume we will go down,” he said. “Personally I don't think that will be the case. We will work hard.

“I think we will do better than a lot of people think. We will provide an intimidating atmosphere at home to pick up more points in the season than some would think.

“The mentality really helps. Everyone thinks the atmosphere [at The Den] will be difficult and it'll be high-tempo, tackles flying about, so it can be intimidating.”

How well Millwall perform will also depend on the form of Steve Morison and Lee Gregory, the regular front pairing who contributed a combined 84 goals in the last two seasons.

Meredith has experience of how strong a partnership they are.

He said: “I know Lee Gregory, and Steve Morison from playing against him and talking to him. Steve and I have played against each other so many times.

“One thing about Steve is that you have to watch him on the header and make sure you're positioned well. He’s strong and will fight you in the air and he is really good at heading the ball.

“He did me in the play-off semi-final last year at Valley Parade from his goal from the corner.

“He’s done it for years. I think I was at York and he was at Stevenage and he was doing it then. I think his hair was different, he was bald then!”

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly