MILLWALL manager Neil Harris believes Tom Bradshaw will come back from injury “a better player – and says he’s the Lions’ “best finisher”.
Bradshaw’s season ended in November when he suffered knee ligament damage that required surgery, but Harris feels that spell out has given the striker the chance to observe games and training and understand better how he will fit into the side when he returns.
Harris said the intention after signing Bradshaw from Barnsley last summer was to partner him with Lee Gregory, or play him when Gregory was unavailable.
But Bradshaw struggled to gain a regular place in the side, and didn’t score in 10 games before his injury against Brentford.
With Millwall fearing Gregory would let his contract run down, they were looking for a long-term replacement last summer, and Bradshaw fit the bill.
The onus will be on Bradshaw to get a full pre-season under his belt and then prove he can replace the departing Gregory.
“We had to have an eye on Lee Gregory with 10 months left on his contract and he made it very clear that his future lay up north,” Harris said. “So Tom Bradshaw, yes, we wanted to bring him in to possibly play with Lee Gregory, but would Lee go through the season without any injuries? Well he pretty much did, and it was Tom who got injured.
“He came in with the thought process of one day replacing Lee, [after] playing alongside him. Tom is a goal scorer, he will score goals. He is the best finisher at the club and if given opportunities he will score goals on both feet and with his head.
“What Tom has had from having spoken to him numerous times is the opportunity whilst injured to watch the games, to study the games, to watch training, watch the players, how they play, how I want them to play – and he will be a better Millwall player because of his time out injured.
“Bradders will come back fit and firing at the start of the pre-season. We have to be a little bit patient, but he is certainly going to come back a better player from the knowledge he has picked up over the last nine months than when he first signed for the club.”
Meanwhile, another player whose season was ended early by injury, Murray Wallace, will be ready for the start of pre-season in June.
Wallace claimed the first-choice left-back spot in January, after being signed from Scunthorpe the previous summer to provide defensive depth.
The Scot scored two winning FA Cup goals, in injury-time against Everton in the fourth round and then against AFC Wimbledon in the next round.
He also scored two league goals, but suffered ankle and knee damage in the 2-1 defeat at Hull in February.
Harris said: “Murray Wallace will be fit. It was a shame because Murray had just nailed down a position and got himself regular performances and some real good publicity from some important goals.
“Murray, Tom Bradshaw, Ryan Leonard and Ben Thompson, all four will be much better players for the season they have had this year.”
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