By Jake Sanders
NEIL Harris was delighted with Jiri Skalak after the Lions winger bagged his first Millwall goal in their victory at Gillingham on Sunday afternoon – admitting "he has caught my eye in pre-season."
Skalak, who made just one appearance for Millwall in the final four months of last season – at Wigan Athletic on the final day – put the Lions ahead with a stunning first-half volley after latching onto Ryan Leonard's pass.
A trialist levelled for League One Gillingham, but Jake Cooper stooped to score less than two minutes later to earn Harris' side their third pre-season victory in four outings.
"I am really pleased with him," Harris said. "Jiri has been excellent all pre-season. I think you saw the reaction from the players as well [to his goal]. You don’t really celebrate goals in pre-season, but you saw the reaction to Jiri because he has come back in great shape.
"He knows there is a challenge to be in the team, all the wide players know there is a challenge. We have Jed [Wallace] who is a class act, Connor Mahoney has come in for a big transfer fee and is a good player. Jiri is looking on song, Shane Ferguson has quality in that position and we also have Aiden [O'Brien] who can play there.
"It is competition for places and the boys have to be at their best, and Jiri has definitely caught my eye during pre-season."
With local rivalry at stake, despite it being a non competitive, Harris was expecting a high-intensity game at Priestfield – and the Lions boss wasn't surprised with what he saw.
"We came to Gillingham to play the Gills in a local derby, a Steve Evans side, knowing full well that it was going to be blood and thunder and a 100mph.
"It was completely different to what we faced in previous [pre-season] games, against a non-league side when we completely dominated the game, against Fleetwood and Braga we played against two possession-based sides that physically could not match us.
"It was a great test, it caught some of the boys out even though I did warn them beforehand. I was pleased with the goals, although we could have added a few more.
"First and foremost no injuries, and we won the game which isn’t everything in pre-season but it does build that confidence."
Image: Millwall FC