Millwall boss explains reasons behind pre-season schedule

NEIL Harris has revealed why his side will be participating in behind closed-door games in Portugal – and the reasoning for the opposition of their pre-season fixtures.

Millwall play Dartford on 7 July before travelling to Portugal to play two Portuguese sides and conclude with two away games against Colchester United and Cambridge United.

The Lions finish their pre-season schedule with Jimmy Abdou's testimonial at The Den on Saturday 28 July.

Harris said: "First and foremost is what is best for the team. Obviously, I love the fan base and love giving them opportunities to see the team, but it's about what is best for the players and preparation for the new season.

"We go to Portugal because it's six days for me, my staff and my players to gel, to bond and to work.

"We go behind closed-doors because Millwall tours in the past have become anarchy, ones I have been on. We have lost games and have had to rearrange fixtures and it's not ideal, so I won't take that risk.

"We go for Dartford because the majority of our fan base is from that area. It supports our local club, who we have got a relationship with.

"We play Portuguese opposition when we are away, because they are teams that keep the ball and probably 80% of the Championship keep the ball.

"And then we come back and play two local sides that we are looking to build relationships with, in Colchester and Cambridge .

"We have tried to come away this year from teams that we have played. Recently we have played Crawley a couple of times, Stevenage a couple of times and Barnet a couple of times, so we are just trying to mix it a little bit and Colchester and Cambridge fit into the travelling category of within an hour and a half for the fans and players to get to. They are going to be good tests.

When asked why the club will be playing behind closed-doors games in Portugal, Harris said: "Two reasons. It's for the players to have no pressure when playing and for me to be able to try anything I want on the pitch. If I want to change the system, I can. There is no leaked information back to teams we are going to come up against in the first few weeks of the season. If we let fans in and they film parts of the game and put it on YouTube or tweet back to what is going on, then it makes it difficult.

"If I change system and we let three goals in, in ten minutes and I want to change it back, it makes no difference. The players know there is no pressure. It is a chance to try things.

"There will be no trialists."