PREVIEW: Millwall vs. Aston Villa

JED Wallace returns from suspension for the clash with Aston Villa on Saturday – but Neil Harris said he does not want to change his starting XI before every game.

Harris made fewer changes to his line-ups last season (1.2, per The Stats Zone) than any other Championship side, but this season that number has jumped to 1.9.

Harris explained after the 2-2 draw at Nottingham Forest on Wednesday night the thinking behind handing Shane Ferguson a first league start in over eight months, and picking Jiri Skalak on the right side of midfield.

Ferguson assisted Shaun Williams’ goal as the Lions came from 2-0 down at the City Ground.

“I don’t want to make changes every game. I don’t want to make wholesale changes every week,” Harris said. “I think it’s clear some of our players don’t perform to the top of their level due to age or injuries in the past with playing Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Wednesday.

“We focused on this game in particular, we studied [Forest] real in depth as ever and just felt that a lot of the personnel we put on the pitch could hurt these. We went with two out-and-out wingers that cross the ball and to put balls in the box and they did.

“We played Tom Elliott because he gets more contacts in the opposition penalty area then most other strikers in the division and certainly in our team.

“We picked a team to try and win the game and affect the game and I’ll continue to do that.

“Would it be nice to get some stability and pick the same XI? We will do, that will happen. It might not happen for Saturday because of the turnaround Wednesday to Saturday, but it will happen over the course of the season.”

Murray Wallace also returned to the centre of defence and Millwall defended their penalty area well, conceding two goals from long range. Wallace could keep his place ahead of Byron Webster.

Tom Elliott will feel he did enough to start against Villa, after one of his best performances for Millwall at Forest, and he could continue his partnership with Lee Gregory.

Villa sacked Steve Bruce after their 3-3 draw at home to Preston on Tuesday left them 12th in the Championship, far below expectations for one of the strongest squads in the division.

Under-23 boss Kevin MacDonald has been put in temporary charge.

“It’s a case of getting the players through until I hear otherwise. If there’s a new manager in before next weekend I'm sure he'll have his own take on what he wants to do,” MacDonald said, as Villa were being linked with a move for Thierry Henry or John Terry.

“The following week will then be preparation for the next game, with players perhaps still away.”

MacDonald faces a Millwall side determined to go into the international break with a first league win since August.

“They're the same as any team in the Championship. They're all physical battles that we'll have to try and win early on,” MacDonald continued.

“The New Den is obviously an intimidating place to go. Let's hope our players play better on the day and win the game.”

Possible Millwall starting XI:

4-4-2: Amos; Romeo, M Wallace, Cooper, Meredith; J Wallace, Leonard, Williams, Ferguson; Gregory, Elliott.

Match odds:

Millwall 17/10 Draw 9/4 Aston Villa 8/5

Last season’s meetings:

Aston Villa 0-0 Millwall; Millwall 1-0 Aston Villa (Williams 30’ pen).

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly