MILLWALL defender James Brown is hoping to put himself in the Lions first-team frame for next season after extending his loan deal at League Two Carlisle.
Brown, who turns 20 next week, has played 22 times for the Cumbrian side this season and revealed he is enjoying the cut and thrust of his first full campaign in senior men’s football.
Brown has been in regular contact with his parent club during his loan spell.
“I’ve had a lot of discussions with staff and players at Millwall and I want to go back there, as long as my form is good and I don’t get injured or anything like that, as a young pro with some experience," he told Carlisle’s official website. “To go back there after getting 35-40 games under my belt is my aim, and that would put me in a really good position to go into next season and see what happens.
“That’s all I’m hoping for. I’ve obviously got to play well to keep my place in the team, but if I do that it will mean that hopefully I can get near the 40-appearances mark, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more from the season than that.
“I have good channels of communication with the staff at Millwall, and with my under-23 manager Kevin Nugent. I speak to him after every game, and I know they’re watching the games I play in, and my clips and things like that.
“I get sent my own clips to watch and I think it’s important to watch myself back, and for Millwall to watch my performances, so they get an idea of how I’m developing.
“I knew I wasn’t going to play at Millwall this season so it was important for me to get out and get games. I needed to prove myself because I hadn’t played any first team games before this season.
“They're happy for me to stay here and continue to develop, and I’m happy to be here and play games. I just want to get as many games as I can under my belt between now and the end of the season and continue helping the team along the way."
Brown also described how the experience – including being dropped and having to win his place back, as well disagreements with team-mates and staff – is helping his development.
“There’s nothing better than playing football,” he said. “I probably could have stayed at Millwall and played under-23s, or sat on the bench, but it isn’t the same as being out and playing for a men’s team. My best option was to stay here and continue fighting for my place and hopefully I’ll get more game time in the second half of the season.
"Whether we win or lose, we know what we should be doing on the pitch, and whether you play or not is all down to whether you do what you’ve been told. There are times I’ve been dropped, but there are reasons behind everything and it’s a really big learning curve for a young player who hasn’t been in that situation before. As footballers that's part and parcel of the job and you’ve just got to get on with it.
"Players and coaching staff will dig each other out but it’s healthy because everyone wants the best for each other. It’s nothing personal, it’s just the realities of men’s football. It’s good for me to see that, and if I get dug out or I need to dig someone out, I will do it. You’re all working towards the same thing and we all want the same results.
“There have been changes in personnel and formation changes so I’ve had to adapt. I’ve been left out of the team a few times, which is going to happen in men’s football, because nobody is guaranteed a start.
"There will be times when you are disappointed, but you’ve just got to keep your head down and earn your place back, which I’ve had to do a couple of times already."
Image: Millwall FC