Millwall midfielder captures Portsmouth hearts – as he aims for second promotion

BEN Thompson wants to regain a regular place in Millwall’s first team – after first earning the second promotion of his career.

Thompson, 23, is on a season-long loan at League One Portsmouth, who are currently top of the table under former Lions boss Kenny Jackett.

Midfielder Thompson has played 13 times for flying Pompey already this season, after only featuring in eight games in all competitions for the Lions last season. He played 94 times over the previous two campaigns.

Portsmouth fans have been raving about Thompson’s performances, which have also included playing in a more attacking midfield role.

Those supporters of the Fratton Park club would gladly take Thompson on a permanent deal, but he is determined to have a long career with his boyhood club.

Thompson made his Millwall debut a year after Jackett left the club, and he sees similarities between his current boss and Neil Harris.

“The training strategies and regimes are quite similar to Millwall, so it’s not been a massive change for me,” Thompson said. “They play direct as managers and want to get up the pitch quickly to play in areas that are dangerous to the other team.

“I knew that. I spoke to Neil before my loan and he knew that I’d be coming here and it would be similar to Millwall, that’s what he wants. It will benefit me in the long run coming back to have played in a similar style.

“The way I’m looking at it is I’m improving here to go back and get in the Millwall team. I want to go back and prove myself in the Championship.

“I want to be playing at as high a level as possible. I’ve come here to learn. Obviously I’m here to help Portsmouth up the table, that’s why Kenny brought me in.

“I want to make sure Portsmouth do well, of course, but in the long run I want to be playing in Millwall’s first team.”

Portsmouth are currently the second favourites for the League One title, though there is still two-thirds of the season remaining.

Thompson reached Wembley with Millwall twice, and was part of the squad that won promotion to the Championship on the second of those occasions in 2017.

He said of his current side: “I knew they would be up there near the top of the table. I want another promotion under my belt and there’s no reason why we can’t do it.

“I came here with a point to prove. I want to prove to people that I can do good things. It’s working out at the moment and I want to keep it going.”

*Read an extended interview with Ben Thompson in today's Southwark News print edition, including how he is expanding his skill set playing as a number 10, why Portsmouth was the best option for him, and dealing with the adulation of Pompey fans on social media.

Image: Joe Pepler/Portsmouth FC

John Kelly