Championship preview: Millwall vs. Bolton Wndrs

MILLWALL have lost four successive games to Bolton, haven’t scored in those games, and last season were comfortably beaten twice by Phil Parkinson’s side.  

Bolton had the best defence in League One last season but conceded three goals at home in their first Championship game of this campaign, losing 3-2 to Leeds United last weekend.

There was another blow when midfielder Josh Vela had to go off with an ankle injury and he will not be available at The Den on Saturday. Vela, 23, missed just one game in all competitions last season and scored 10 goals from midfield.

The potential absence of centre-back David Wheater with a back injury is another boost for Millwall. Wheater and ex-Lion central-defensive partner Mark Beevers were superb in the games between the sides last season, both of which finished 2-0 to Bolton.

Millwall boss Neil Harris made a number of changes to his side for the EFL Cup clash with Stevenage on Tuesday night, but two of his first-choice players, Jake Cooper and Lee Gregory, are major doubts.

Despite their injury problems, Bolton will be organised and resolute on Saturday, and Harris has pinpointed the areas Millwall need to be at their best to be in with a chance of beating their rivals for the first time in nine games, since a 2-1 win at The Den in October 2012.

“We have to compete, certainly from restarts,” Harris said. “Bolton are very Millwall-like, they play in your face, they can mix it and play direct or pass the ball.

“As we’ve seen over the last couple of years, Phil is a really good manager. He gets his players right at it and they beat us twice last year from being really organised.

“They undid us last year on set-pieces, which was unusual for us in the last couple of seasons. They were better than us on dead-ball deliveries.

“We certainly have to stand strong in those moments during the game when it is going to be physical and aerial. And then when we’ve got the ball we have to use it as well as we did on Friday night against Forest.”

Millwall record against Bolton:

Played 43

Won 16 Drew 8 Lost 19

Probable Millwall team:

4-4-2: Archer; McLaughlin, Webster, Hutchinson, Meredith; Wallace, Saville, Williams, O’Brien; Elliott, Morison.

Match odds:

Millwall 19/20 Draw 5/2 Bolton 14/5

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly