CALUM Butcher admitted last season was a frustrating one for him as he targets a regular starting place in the Millwall side in the Championship.
Butcher joined the Lions last summer from Burton but started just nine times in the league, coming on as a substitute in 21 games.
Former Tottenham midfielder Butcher, 26, won promotion from League One for the second successive year when Millwall beat Bradford in May.
But he still wasn't satisfied with the campaign.
“Last year was frustrating for me, I wanted to play a lot more than I did on the back of getting promoted with Burton,” Butcher said. “I’ve come into pre-season fit and raring to go and I’ve got to put my head down.
“Hopefully opportunities come this season. I don’t know what the gaffer is thinking but I have to do as much as I can.
“We’ve got a great squad of players and there’s going to be a lot of competition which you need throughout the season.
“I want to play as many games as I can and cement a place in the side when the opportunities come.”
Like Burton last season, Millwall go into the Championship with one of the lowest operating budgets in the division and odds that indicate many people expect them to struggle.
But Burton defied expectations by surviving in their first ever season in the second tier of English football, finishing 20th with 52 points after 46 games.
And Butcher sees the same qualities in this Millwall squad that have been key to his former club’s recent success.
He said: “Burton did fantastically last season to stay up with their budget and the players they brought in. That says a lot about the mentality of the boys and the togetherness, which I think we’ve got here in abundance.
“We like coming into training, everyone wants to work hard and do well and that’s what Burton had last year.
“It’s massive, the stadiums and the atmospheres there are going to be this season, there are some massive clubs. We’ve just got to take our opportunities when they come and put in the performances to cement ourselves in the Championship.”
Butcher was in the Millwall side that lost 1-0 to Barnet in a pre-season friendly last Saturday.
That result didn’t unduly worry him, but he admitted that players must raise their levels ahead of the Championship campaign.
“There are still things we need to improve on, but it’s pre-season, we’ve got another two games,” Butcher said. “It’s all about getting minutes, there are no injuries so it’s about trying to take the positives when you can.
“We just have to be more clinical when we get opportunities. You could say our build-up play could have been better but overall I thought it was all us second half.
“We’ve got to go in this week and train hard, standards have to go up from everyone. We have to put it right in the games coming up.
“Portugal was a good training camp, there was bonding and togetherness. That’s the good thing – boys are on each other’s cases and you take it well because you want to get better. That’s what it’s all about, improving this season and being better than we were last season. The boys know that.
“Everyone’s standards have got to lift, you’re going into the Championship and you’re going to get punished.
“I’ve had pre-seasons where you lose all your games and then go win five on the bounce at the start of the season. It’s difficult to judge it, it is about fitness and not getting injured.
"But it’s important to get that winning mentality that we had last year for a long period of time. Hopefully we can get that now.
“It’ll come, we’ve just got to work hard this week.”
Image: Millwall FC