NEIL Harris has admitted it will be more difficult to bring young players through with Millwall in the Championship this season.
Under Harris, academy products Aiden O’Brien and Ben Thompson became important first-team players in League One, while Millwall’s former under-21 boss also gave senior debuts to Jamie Philpot, Kris Twardek and Mahlon Romeo, among others.
Harris has already added four permanent signings to the promotion-winning squad as the Lions prepare for their first pre-season friendlies next weekend, against Fisher and Dartford.
Harris wants a small senior squad of “fit, hungry players” this season.
“I like working with a smaller squad, a 20-man senior squad,” Harris said. “The thought process won’t change for me, we still want to bring through players from our academy and give them an opportunity. Yes, of course, we’re going up a level and it’s harder to integrate them.
“Having too big a squad isn’t for me. Ideally, I want 20 senior players and then have one or two on the fringes competing, or a couple of younger players going out on loan. If it is 18 for the first couple of weeks of pre-season then it’s an opportunity for some of the younger players to progress.
“If it ends up being 21 with players jostling for positions and someone wants to go out on loan, then I’m really open-minded.
“The important thing for me is having a group of fit, hungry players that want to be included in the match-day squad.
“At the very worst the 19th or 20th man will be very close and could be back involved the following week. That’s been the basis of our success over the last couple of seasons.”
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