Millwall defender not taking Sunderland lightly

JAKE Cooper has warned Sunderland still have a "top squad" despite their position at the bottom of the Championship ahead of the sides' meeting at The Den on Saturday.

There were two divisions between the clubs last season, but Millwall go into the fixture 21 points ahead of the Black Cats, who are four points from safety and in real danger of suffering a second successive relegation.

Sunderland boss Chris Coleman was able to introduce the likes of Republic of Ireland international Aiden McGeady and man of the match in the 2013 FA Cup final Callum McManaman off the bench last weekend, the latter scoring a 96th-minute goal to ensure a dramatic 3-3 draw with Middlesbrough.

Cooper was up against Darren Bent last weekend against Burton, and almost let the former England striker through on goal before making an excellent recovery tackle.

Cooper was then outstanding as Millwall claimed a third successive away clean sheet in the league, making a number of late clearances as the Lions ground out the win.

"Being a foot taller than most people helps," he joked. "Teams go a bit more direct coming toward the end of the game when they are in a losing position. It's always going to be more likely I'll have more work to do in the air later in games.

"We gave them a couple of chances that we shouldn't have done. It was horrible conditions on Saturday and there are times when we are going to get it wrong, but fortunately I managed to get back in the nick of time.

"But we don't want to give away too many chances to players of that quality. It'll be the same this weekend against Sunderland, most of these Championship clubs have top players. It'll be a good test for us to see how we match up against them. Hopefully we can nullify them.

"The main aim is to get to 50 points and we'll go from there.

"Sunderland still have a top squad, they got relegated from the Premier League but have a lot of players with experience of playing at that level. We won't be getting ahead of ourselves.

"I am sure it will be a great day at The Den and hopefully we can produce another top performance."

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly