NEIL Harris expects more of Millwall once he has decided on a settled side – with Saturday’s squad against Real Sociedad set to feature first-team players only.
Millwall lost 2-1 to Southend on Wednesday night after Theo Robinson scored twice late on following Nathan Ralph’s own goal.
Danny McNamara and Ryan Sandford started, while Junior Tiensia and Billy Mitchell came on after the break. Those players will now return to Kevin Nugent’s under-23 squad and Millwall will try to arrange suitable loan deals to continue their development.
Harris left out a number of first-team players as his side lost at Roots Hall.
"After the game Sunday [against Gillingham] I said results are irrelevant. But results are relevant when you concede goals,” Harris said. “I don’t like losing games, but I’m more concerned about the goals we conceded. We shouldn’t have been conceding goals tonight.
“The first one was a poor goal to give away, team-wise, shape-wise. The second goal, we’ve got kids on the pitch and we get things wrong.
“I was frustrated with that but some of our passages of play were really good without creating loads, I said to the group I was disappointed with the amount of opportunities we created. There was a little bit of rustiness.
“I wasn’t unhappy with the first half, I just thought it was pre-season, testimonial mode. I’ve been to watch a few games in the last seven days and they’ve all been like that first half. I said to the boys that isn’t really how we want to play. We want to move the ball with a purpose, get it forward quickly at the correct times and make good decisions with the ball.
“For 15 minutes of the second half we looked like a proper team. When we get a settled team and stop rotating players and messing around during pre-season that’s how I want us to look. That’s what we’ve been working hard on on the training pitch.
“Maybe I pushed the boys a little bit hard in the last seven days because I thought the performance at Gillingham was a little sluggish and the same tonight. I do expect that in the lads at times, but it’ll settle down once we get Saturday out of the way.”
Tom Bradshaw and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson started up front together against Kevin Bond’s side.
Bradshaw hasn’t played competitively since last November, and Bodvarsson has only played seven times in 2019.
Harris said: “I thought both looked a little bit short of match fitness. Jon, as we know, hasn’t played a lot of football, so I was pleased to get him to an hour, Bradders to 80 minutes. It was a good return for him.
“They’ve got the potential to be a really good pairing the way they play. We’ve got to use their strengths. It’s a pairing we’ve not really seen on the training pitch or in a game so they’ll take time. Most important for them is both got through the game injury-free.”
Harris elaborated further on his plans for Sociedad. “It won’t be the first team that plays the following week [against Preston], but the young boys won’t be involved at the weekend. They’ve done their bit now with the first team and they’ll go to the under-23s. I’ve been really pleased with their input over the course of pre-season but now we’re really preparing for the season and it’ll be the first-team group on Saturday.”
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