STEVE Morison knows Millwall could be out to recruit a younger version of their captain this summer – but he is up for the personal challenges that will bring.
Morison will be 35 next August, the first month of the season, and he admitted he will have to work hard in pre-season to give himself the best chance to keep his place in the side.
The Lions signed Tom Elliott last summer to provide competition for Morison and Lee Gregory. But Millwall’s skipper was as influential as ever, playing 47 times in all competitions after 107 appearances in the previous two seasons.
Morison triggered an extension clause during this season which means he will be with the club until at least the summer of 2019.
There isn’t another clause in his current deal and he will have to prove himself in the next campaign to add another year to his Millwall playing career.
Morison admitted he is looking forward to seeing what additions boss Neil Harris will make next summer.
“I’m sure the gaffer will have his people in place to try to bring in players he will want to replace those that leave and players to make us stronger,” Morison said. “It will be interesting to watch what changes will take place over the summer.
“Hopefully a big centre-forward doesn’t come in and take my place! Nah, I’m not stupid enough to think the club won’t be trying to replace me with someone who can come in and do the things I can do to the same standard or better.
“It’s healthy to have that kind of competition to push us all. I know that I’ll respond to the challenge, it helps me to be better. We brought big Tom in last season to push me and Greggs and I’ve ended up playing almost 50 games this season.
“That’s what happened in January when the gaffer added to the squad and it gave us another push to climb the table and go close to the play-offs.”
Millwall have enjoyed a superb season, tinged only with disappointment after they reached the play-off spots with four games left but ran out of steam during a tough run-in.
They could still get more than 70 points, which would be their highest total at this level since 2002.
Millwall’s previous two stints in the second tier lasted five seasons, and Morison admitted next season will be more difficult, but he is confident they can hold on to their key players who are sure to attract the attention of other clubs.
“We’ve got a chairman who is not going to sell unless people offer stupid money,” Morison explained. “Unless players decide they want to force a move. But we don’t have anyone at our club that would do anything like that. Everyone enjoys being here and I’m confident we’ll keep them and add to the squad.
“It’s going to be more difficult next season. We’re not going to be an unknown quantity any more unless we have an overhaul of the squad or change the way we play.
“But the odds are we will make a few changes to personnel and we will play a similar way, we’ve just got to do it better.
“We probably won’t have that surprise element we had to our run this year. We’re going to have to run and fight for every single point.
“The second seasons at this level are often more of a struggle, but we will be determined to have a fourth successful year under the gaffer.”
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