MILLWALL face what could be a defining game this Saturday.
Win and they would move 11 points clear of Bolton, a deficit that is hard to see Phil Parkinson’s side making up. That would then likely leave one team from four for the last relegation place, unless there is a side above the bottom six that collapses.
A defeat would create a completely different complexion. Not only would the gap be just four points, but there would also be the huge dent in confidence it would bring. A fourth consecutive defeat and momentum going the wrong way.
There is also a run of fixtures in April that looks daunting. The Lions don’t want to be going to the likes of Aston Villa and Sheffield United requiring wins to get them out of trouble.
Bolton are in deep trouble, on and off the pitch, but as they showed last weekend where they were holding Swansea goalless at the Liberty Stadium with nine men with 10 minutes left before conceding two late goals, they are still a stubborn opponent.
Parkinson has again assembled a side, despite financial constraints, that is big and physical and Millwall fans won’t need to be told about Mark Beevers’ threat at set-pieces. The former Lions defender scored at The Den in the 1-1 draw between the sides in November.
Harris is boosted by the return of Ben Marshall after he couldn’t play against parent club Norwich last weekend.
One big decision is concerning who to play at left-back, with Murray Wallace out for the season. The obvious choice is James Meredith over Shane Ferguson for the former’s added physical presence in defence.
Harris could opt to play 4-4-1-1, or a variation of it, with Jed Wallace operating off Lee Gregory and Marshall and Ferguson in wide midfield positions.
Or the Lions boss could decide to beef up midfield by playing three. Ben Thompson’s excellent performance against the Canaries makes it hard to leave him out, while Ryan Leonard and Ryan Tunnicliffe are also options alongside Shaun Williams.
Steve Morison’s contribution to three goals in the last three games also puts him in the frame, and Harris may feel he needs two up front against a big Bolton defence.
Goalkeeper Ben Amos is back in training after a broken finger but can’t play against the club he is set to return to in the summer.
Meanwhile, the Bolton squad returned to training on Tuesday a day after their training ground was closed due to a lack of food, drink and fuel.
About the only good news for Parkinson in another troubling week was Josh Magennis being passed fit for the game after he was stretchered off against Swansea.
Possible Millwall team:
4-4-1-1: Archer; Romeo, Hutchinson, Cooper, Meredith; Ferguson, Williams, Thompson, Marshall; J Wallace; Gregory.
Bolton 3-1 Draw 23/10 Millwall 10/11
Millwall 1-1 Bolton (Cooper 82; Beevers 12)
Image: Millwall FC