JASON McCarthy is targeting a first-team place at Millwall – and he has a secret weapon that could help him.
McCarthy, 23, joined the Lions this week on a long-term deal for an undisclosed fee from League One Wycombe.
He is primarily a right-back but has played left-back and in the centre of defence.
And in the last year he has added another string to his bow. In the 54th minute of Wycombe's third-last game of last season against Walsall, with the side just outside the relegation zone, McCarthy stood over a free-kick just outside the box. What followed was described as "sublime" in one report, as McCarthy curled home an effort to give Wycombe a 1-0 win and move them four points clear of the bottom four.
McCarthy told NewsAtDen this week how it came about the he ended up developing that expertise.
"It's kind of a new thing for me, it started last year," he said. "In my time at Barnsley, in the last six months I was out of the side and really struggling to get game time. Through boredom, really, I started practising set-pieces and found myself getting quite good at it.
"Then in my time at Wycombe I got on them towards the back end of last season. My ratio is pretty good so I'm hoping to bring that to Millwall. I know it's such a big part of the way they play here.
"It was a big goal and probably the most important in terms of goals I've scored in my career. That was a good moment."
McCarthy revealed Millwall tried to sign him previously, before renewing their interest earlier this summer. And he said there was only one choice when such an "iconic club" came calling.
"I knew of interest of Millwall a couple of years ago but it fizzled out. I was at Walsall but it didn't happen for one reason or another," he explained. "Then I knew at the start of this window that they were back in for me.
"I really only had one thought in my mind then, I wanted to come. I'm delighted it's finally done. It's a big club, an iconic club. The first thing you think about is the fans and how passionate they are. I've played at The Den a few times as an opposition player, so to have that behind me now I'm going to use that to my advantage and I think the team should has well. I'm looking forward to experiencing it.
"It's very intimidating, it's not a nice place to come and we have to make it a fortress this season. We have to make it a place where teams are not looking forward to coming. I don't think we should be fearing anyone."
McCarthy has considerable experience in professional football despite his young age, and he hopes to get up towards the 200-game mark as he challenges Mahlon Romeo for the right-back spot.
"I've played 165 games, I don't think there are many other 23-year-olds who have played the number of games," McCarthy added. "I've got a lot of experience under my belt and I want to keep adding to that. I want to play games and hopefully by the end of this season I'll be touching 200 and using my experience to help the side.
"It's all about the team first and foremost, I want the team to do well and my targets come second to that. Of course I want to be playing, I haven't come here to be bit-part. I want to bring a lot to the team and I believe I can.
"When the gaffer needs me or wants me to play I'll do a job for him.
"It's been quite a chaotic couple of days but it's all finally done and the medical went well, it's been quite long-winded but I'm glad it's completed and I'm a Millwall player now.
"I've had a full pre-season at Wycombe and played quite a lot of minutes. I'll be straight into it here and there will be no excuses from my point of view in terms of fitness."
Image: Millwall FC