Millwall look at 'bigger picture' with loan deals

MILLWALL will consider what’s best for the players’ long-term development before considering whether to recall them from loan deals.

The Lions have been affected by a number of injuries recently, with all four strikers spending time in the treatment room and one, Tom Bradshaw, out for the season.

A potential addition to that department would be Fred Onyedinma, who is on loan at Wycombe Wanderers until January 1.

Onyedinma, 22, has been playing regularly for the Chairboys as they have resurrected their play-off chances in League One recently. Onyedinma would prefer to extend his stay there rather than return to the Lions and potentially see limited game time.

Ben Thompson is on a season-long loan with Kenny Jackett’s Pompey who are currently top of League One. Thompson has been a revelation with Portsmouth and is enjoying his time there.

The situations of Sid Nelson and Tom King affect Millwall’s first-team squad less. Neil Harris has enough players in those positions.

Harris admitted the injury problems up front give consideration to Onyedinma’s immediate future, but stressed the club have to think about what’s right for his development.

“It affects Fred in the sense that we’re a centre-forward light,” Harris said. “We brought Tom in and let Fred go out quite quickly in the summer because he hadn’t started a lot of games over an eighteen-month period.

“He needed to get out and play regular football, and he’s now doing that at Wycombe and playing well.

“We have to be mindful of the fact that the players who have gone on loan, there has to be longevity in terms of them getting game time. It can’t just be reactive to what we’re doing here. There is an element of that, of course, but what is beneficial for the young players? Is it going out and playing regularly, or is it coming back here and being part of our squad? That’s the balance all the time.

“At the moment we’re attacking players light. No Tom [Bradshaw], no Tom Elliott. The under-23s are very young. There are some talented players in there, but they are very young.

“All of a sudden you lose three players in one position you’re very light. Losing three centre-forwards in the space of a few weeks is almost unheard of.

“We know in football that it happens, but you can’t stockpile players in one position and have seven or eight because then you have an unhappy dressing room and an unhappy camp.

“Losing three is unlucky but you have to look at the bigger picture with people like Fred, and Ben, Tom and Sid. Are they better off being back here and being in the squad, or staying out on loan and continuing playing?

“We’ll make those decisions diligently and methodically as we get nearer January.”

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly