NEIL Harris insists Harry Smith’s long-term future is with Millwall after the striker joined Swindon Town on a season-long loan this week.
Harris revealed there were a number of enquiries to take Smith on loan but Swindon was a “really good fit”.
The Robins were relegated from League One last season and are rebuilding under new boss David Flitcroft, who took over from Luke Williams in June.
Smith, 22, joined Millwall last summer for a fee of £15,000 after helping Folkestone Invicta to promotion to the Isthmian League Premier Division in 2015-16.
Smith made a scoring debut in a Football League Trophy group game against Luton last November before following that up with goals on his debuts in the league and FA Cup.
However, he has played just four times in 2017, and Harris has added Tom Elliott to his squad to provide competition for Steve Morison and Lee Gregory.
Fred Onyedinma, who has agreed a new deal with the club, and Aiden O’Brien can also play up front meaning Smith’s first-team opportunities in the Championship would have been limited.
“It’s a brilliant move for him,” Harris said. “What an impact he had last year, probably beyond all our wildest dreams.
“He came in and to score six goals and to play the games he did was about 12 months ahead of where we all expected him to be.
“We’re just conscious we’ve gone up another level. Stevie showed his quality again last year, and we’ve brought Tom Elliott in.
“Yes, they are very good players but we also need to think about Harry’s development. We’re giving him an opportunity to go away and be ready when he comes back.
“It’s a really good move for him. We had lots of enquiries for Harry over the course of the last six weeks, but Swindon looks a really good fit. They’re a big side in that division and will get big crowds.
“They have two very good, front-foot thinking people in their management team in David Flitcroft and Ben Futcher. They play quite a similar style to us, so that was important.
“It’s an opportunity for Harry to go and get some minutes, but there’s no doubt his long-term future lies at our football club.
“Like a lot of young lads, being here close to the squad but not playing is not going to benefit him, neither is under-23 football because he has played senior men’s football for the last three years and that’s what he needs.”
Smith admitted that Millwall’s promotion to the second tier would have made it difficult for him to force his way into the first-team picture.
“It was my first year in professional football and it was a learning curve for me, so I was happy to have scored six in 12 with a one-in-two ratio,” Smith told Swindon’s official website.
“But with the club stepping up to the Championship, it was always going to be hard for me to get minutes so this year is all about getting more experience and hopefully being part of something successful.”
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