Millwall boss open to loan move for Smith

HARRY Smith could be loaned out this season with Millwall boss Neil Harris aiming for a 20-man senior squad for the 2017-18 Championship campaign.

Smith is one of a number of younger players – along with the likes of Sid Nelson, Kris Twardek and Jamie Philpot – who are set to be on the fringes of the senior squad.

Harris has already signed Tom Elliott and James Meredith, with Jed Wallace and George Saville set to follow on permanent deals.

Elliott’s arrival pushes Smith further down the pecking order, and Harris also has the option of using Aiden O’Brien up front as back-up to established pair Steve Morison and Lee Gregory.

Smith, 22, played 12 times last season and scored six goals following his move in the summer from non-league Folkestone Invicta.

Harris currently has 16 senior contracted players, with Wallace and Saville set to bump that up to 18. Harris also wants to sign Jake Cooper and Ryan Leonard, and will bring in a right-back.

That leaves some of the younger players out of the frame, and they could leave on loan for first-team football.

Nelson and Twardek had spells at Newport County and Braintree Town, respectively, during the 2016-17 season.

Harris said: “The likes of Sid Nelson, Harry Smith, Kris Twardek, you say to them, ‘come back in pre-season, you’re either going to be in the mix or we let you go and develop somewhere for six months’.

“They are seen by me as the future of the football club. Had we stayed in League One they would have been at the forefront of being in the 20 [senior first-team players].

“They will be better and stronger, physically and mentally, when they come back for pre-season after their experiences on loan last season.

“However, if they’re not going to be in the 20 they will need to go out again. What we do is we bring through people that have got the mentality to be a Millwall player. They’ve got to earn that right.

“If they’re not involved they will want to go out and play. They’ve all said to me previously they want to be in the team, they love the culture and the working environment of the club.

“But if they’re not in the team they will certainly be keen to go out and learn. That’s the sort of characters we’re bringing through.”

Image: Millwall FC