Millwall's Wallace on Thompson: 'You need character – especially with fans than can bury you'

JED Wallace has heaped praise on Ben Thompson – saying the midfielder typifies Millwall’s character.

Thompson has started the last two Championship games after returning from spending the first half of the season at Portsmouth and helping them to the top of League One.

Kenny Jackett’s Pompey have endured their worst run of the season since Thompson’s departure, without a win in six – losing four times and drawing twice – after the midfielder helped them to a 1-0 victory at Norwich in the third round of the FA Cup.

Portsmouth were desperate to hang on to Thompson, 23, but Lions boss Neil Harris wanted him back for the second half of the season and handed him a first-ever Championship start at Middlesbrough.

Former Portsmouth midfielder Wallace was in a similar situation in 2015-16 when Jackett, then Wolves boss, recalled him early from his first loan spell with the Lions.

“You have to understand you’re contracted to the football club,” Wallace said. “I went back and had the best game I ever played for Wolves before pulling my quad in the 85th minute. On a different day I might have had a good run and who knows where I’d be now.

“Thommo has always seen himself as a Millwall first-team player. I started at Portsmouth and have a great affinity for the club, as I do here. Some clubs you have great feeling for, some you don’t. I’ll always have that for Millwall, I love playing here and loved it at Portsmouth.

“Thommo was a real fans’ favourite there. He’s a Duracell Bunny, he’s everywhere, winning headers, tackles – you can’t not enjoy watching him. He’s got mobility and you need that in the Championship. For a midfielder he’s ridiculously mobile, he’s up and down the pitch.

Jed Wallace was flying for Millwall in 2016 before being recalled by Wolves

“There’s a difference in physicality between League One and the Championship, and the pace and power goes up again in the Premier League.

“I spoke to him in detail about the step-up, and he deserves it, he’s waited two years. I’m of the opinion that you never know how good you are until you get that opportunity. He’s always had the ability but he’s got the confidence now to play under pressure like he did at Portsmouth. That’s only going to help him in his Millwall career.

“Thommo has played two games and he’s been brilliant. Every time he played in that two-year period in the cup games he was outstanding. For him to have that mental strength to come back in, like Fergie [Shane Ferguson], it’s very difficult after you’ve been dead and buried to come back in and do as well as they have.

“That strength of character is important. You saw it with Jordan [Archer] against Everton, after making a mistake he played really well in the second half.

“You need that character, especially playing for, let’s be honest, a club with a fanbase that can bury you. You need that mental strength and we’ve got that in the group. What we lack in ability we make up for in heart.”

Image: Millwall FC

John Kelly