Millwall's Harris: 'Cardiff are no shrinking violets – this won't be for the purists'

NEIL Harris cautioned Millwall’s clash with Cardiff City won’t be for the “faint-hearted” or the “football purist” as two of the sides with the division’s lowest passing statistics go head-to-head at The Den on Friday night.

The teams drew 0-0 (above) earlier in the season, a feisty affair when Cardiff boss Neil Warnock felt Shaun Hutchinson should have seen red for a strong tackle, and Harris claimed Sean Morrison was lucky not to get sent off for an apparent last-man foul on Lee Gregory.

Harris stressed Millwall will have to be ready for the Bluebirds’ “size and power” in the fixture.

“I don’t think Cardiff are shrinking violets, and any Neil Warnock team I’ve played against or managed against have always been on the front foot,” Harris said.

“I don’t think it will be for the faint-hearted. We’re very low down in the passing stats in the division, and Cardiff are below us. It won’t be for the football purist, but it will be a good advert for Championship football.

“It will be two big sides being aggressive and going toe-to-toe. We want to be on the front foot, we won’t adjust our game for anybody. We will have to raise our levels against Cardiff because they are by far the biggest team in the division and they are not afraid to use their size and power.”

Cardiff lost three games in a row over Christmas, but have bounced back and defeated Leeds 4-1 last weekend.

They are fourth in the table, just three points off the top two, and added £6million Gary Madine to their squad from Bolton last month.

Harris said: “They had a little sticky spell around Christmas that maybe forced their hand to go and do some more business. They spent almost six millions pounds on a striker and that was a little bit surprising. Unexpected? No, because of the market we live in and foreign ownership that show at the drop of a hat they are willing to bring players in at any cost.

“The size of their squad and the quality of their squad is there for all to see. They’ve been in the top four all season and they are trying their damndest to stay there.

“It’s going to be another epic encounter at The Den and another big challenge for us because, like Derby, like Wolves, I do expect Cardiff to be right up there at the end of the season.”

Millwall played on Tuesday night, the 1-0 FA Cup loss at Rochdale, but Harris made six changes for that contest and doesn’t believe the quick turn-around will benefit Cardiff.

“It doesn’t give them any advantage,” he insisted. “The game is Friday evening, if it were Friday afternoon it would be different. But the players can rest on Friday.

“It’s live on Sky at The Den, 15,000 home fans and Cardiff will come in their numbers. It will be a great atmosphere and the players will go on that pitch ready.

“They will be the most direct team we will have played against this year at The Den. We’re a big side but they are way above us, size-wise.

“We’ve got to physically compete with them. They’ve also got an experienced manager and experienced squad with some fantastic players.

“It’s another great challenge and we are in a fantastic run of form ourselves.

“Tactically, Cardiff mix it up quite a lot, change their shape before and during games. It makes no odds what we play against. We all know our roles and responsibilities and if I have to change something during the game I’ve got no hesitation doing that.”

Harris will bring back the players he rested at Rochdale, while Tim Cahill could also be in contention after scoring for the under-23s against Coventry on Monday.

Harris added: “He’s certainly left his mark with his performances in training and his professionalism because we saw the team up its performance last Saturday [against Reading]. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

“Bringing in the new players, it has given that lift in the dressing room and players who thought they were settled in the team are looking over their shoulders. We’ve got quality players to come in and replace them and I’d have no hesitation taking someone out and putting someone else in.”

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly