Millwall boss yet to decide on first-choice team for Middlesbrough opener

NEIL Hariss stressed there are places in his side “up for grabs” just two weeks before the start of the season against Middlesbrough.

Harris used 16 players in the 2-0 win at Cambridge United on Saturday.

Harris was asked afterwards about Shane Ferguson and Ben Thompson, who were on the periphery last season but started at the Abbey Stadium.

“They’re no different from anyone else, there will be a few players today that will want to be pushing me and try to force their way into the side,” Harris said.

“Decisions going into the first game of the season become clearer in my mind with every passing day and every game.

“Today some players were very good and some didn’t give their best performances.

“There are places up for grabs, that’s for sure, 100 per cent. There are players who might think they’re going to play but maybe not in my opinion.

“There will be some who feel they are playing catch-up and need minutes and are trying to push to be in the plan.

“Two weeks is a long time in football. If you have a team in your mind now and you pick up a couple of injuries or there are a couple of poor performances then it all changes.

“I won’t have a clear picture in my mind until at least the Tuesday before we play Middlesbrough.”

Millwall didn’t really hit their stride until the last quarter of the game against their League Two opponents, before Tom Elliott headed in the opener after Jake Cooper had hit a post.

Cooper added a second from Aiden O’Brien’s cross.

“We saw last year we’re a real handful from set-plays,” Harris added. “Jake will be disappointed he didn’t score the first one as well as the second.

“But you want your centre-forwards on the scoresheet in pre-season. I’m pleased for Tom that he scored here. It was a shame for Lee [Gregory] because David Forde makes a great couple of saves in the first half.

“There are no injuries so that’s the main thing. We ticked that box straight away. Everyone got the desired minutes.

“There were some elements of the game that were outstanding, some we were rusty and need to improve.

“The temperature during the game was ridiculous and culminating with a very slow pitch made it very difficult to move the ball quickly.

“We could have used the ball better in the first half, we got it forward too quickly against a team that sat off and showed us some respect.

“Fair play to Cambridge, for 70 minutes they played very well. I was impressed with their set-up, they made it difficult for us.

“The game was perfect for us today and I was delighted with the couple of goals at the end. It’s nice also to get a clean sheet.”

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly