Championship preview: Millwall vs. Preston

GEORGE Saville, Lee Gregory, James Meredith, Jordan Archer and Ryan Tunnicliffe could all return to the Millwall starting XI for their clash with Preston at The Den on Saturday.

Neil Harris rested a number of players for the FA Cup win over Barnsley last weekend, and admits he has a “selection dilemma” against Alex Neil’s side.

Although Gregory and Saville should return in place of Fred Onyedinma and Ben Thompson – despite both youngsters getting on the scoresheet against the Tykes – Shaun Williams is pressing for inclusion in the line-up ahead of Tunnicliffe.

Harris must also choose between Conor McLaughlin and Mahlon Romeo at right-back.

“Shaun’s come back to fitness really well after working really hard on his rehab,” Harris said. “In Shaun, Ben, George and Ryan we have four excellent midfield players that can all play in the team with each other, which is a big bonus for us.

“At the moment the pecking order is nigh-on even. It gives me a selection headache going into the weekend.”

Tom Elliott could return to boost the Lions’ attacking options, though Shane Ferguson will miss the fixture.

Harris said: “Tom has an outside chance, he’s working hard with the medical department at the moment. With a hamstring you’ve got to make sure it’s 100 per cent right.

“Fergie won’t be ready this weekend. We’re hoping he can train next week to be involved in some capacity for Leeds. Tom certainly for Leeds.”

Preston are currently ninth in the Championship, just three points off the play-off spots.

They hadn’t been beaten in nine league games before a 3-2 loss at home to Middlesbrough on New Year’s Day, before they bounced back by beating Wycombe 5-1 away in the third round of the FA Cup last weekend.

Harris is an admirer of the work Neil has done this season.

“Preston have been really impressive, I really enjoy watching them,” Harris said. “They’re a bit similar to us in terms of being a high-tempo, high-energy, aggressive side.

“They very rarely play with two centre-forwards so it’s slightly different to what we do. They’ve got players at good ages. Other than the results they’ve achieved to be in a really healthy league position, they’re also probably twelve months in front of us as a club, at the moment.

“Maybe twelve to eighteen months given what they’ve spent, recruitment-wise. They have recruited really well in the summer and are trying to do really good business at the moment.

“Alex Neil demands a lot from his players in terms of work-rate and energy. They’re a dangerous side, they’re a big physical team.

“They will be a bit similar to Barnsley and QPR in the sense that they will be able to mix it at The Den, definitely, which means we need to raise our game again this weekend.

“My players are certainly capable of doing that, as they showed for a half-hour, 40-minute period either side of half-time last weekend.

“It’s a really good game to be involved in. I’m looking forward to it easily as much as I was Wolves and QPR during the Christmas period, and probably more so than any other game this season because it’s going to be a cracking contest.

“There will be a lot of energy, a high work ethic and two sets of fans who will really enjoy watching it.”

Neil could also recall a number of first-team regulars who were rested last Saturday. Neil has added Louis Moult from Motherwell and Billy Bodin from Bristol Rovers to his squad in January.

The sides drew 0-0 at Deepdale earlier this season.

Form guide

Millwall: LDWLW

Preston: DDWLW

Millwall record against Preston

Played 62

Won 24 Drew 10 Lost 28

Probable Millwall team

Millwall: 4-4-2: Archer; Romeo, Hutchinson, Cooper, Meredith; Wallace, Saville, Williams, O’Brien; Gregory, Morison.

Match odds

Millwall 6/4 Draw 21/10 Preston 2/1

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly