PREVIEW: Millwall vs. Preston North End

THIS week’s new signings Jason McCarty and Bartosz Bialkowski could go straight into the Lions’ squad for the first game of the 2019-20 Championship season against Preston at The Den on Saturday.

McCarthy and Bialkowski were part of pre-season preparations with Wycombe and Ipswich respectively before their transfers to south London.

Lions boss Neil Harris could include seven summer signings in his 18-man squad against Alex Neil’s side. Jayson Molumby is the only recruit likely to miss out as he builds up his fitness.

Harris has no new injury problems and plenty of decisions to make over his starting side.

Compared to Millwall, Preston have been relatively quiet in the transfer market this summer. Neil has signed Patrick Bauer from Charlton and David Nugent from Derby, both on frees. And on Friday they confirmed the capture of Tom Bayliss, a promising 20-year-old midfielder from Coventry.

Harris feels Preston didn’t need to make major changes this summer.

“They’ve not recruited a lot of players but they have a very big squad from last season when they had a lot of injuries. They’ve got players back fit,” Harris said.

“They’ve got 24 senior players all over the age of 23, they’ve got a lot of competition for places. We saw them in the second half of last season progressing to a really good Championship side after a slow start.

“We know it’s going to be a tough challenge, physically they’ll be very, very good. It’s a good one to start with because it’s a proper Championship opener, two physical teams that can play but can also mix it. It will be a competitive game with real tempo.”

Millwall will have a new strike partnership this season after the departures of Lee Gregory and Steve Morison.

Aiden O’Brien could play in attack with Matt Smith, while Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Tom Bradshaw are also pushing for inclusion.

Neil has been impressed with Millwall’s rebuilding in the closed season.

“Gregory and Morison had been there a long time. I think Millwall have made two good signings up front for the way they play,” Neil told local media.

“Smith is a good target man and I think Bodvarsson caused us a few issues when he was at Reading.

“He can do both sides of the game, run away from the ball to stretch defences and he adds good height up top.

“I think the boy [Connor] Mahoney (above) is a good signing off the flank. In my opinion Millwall have strengthened the squad to a good standard.”

Possible Millwall starting XI: 4-4-1-1: Fielding; Romeo, Pearce, Cooper, M Wallace; J Wallace, Thompson, Leonard, Mahoney; O’Brien; Smith.

Match odds

Millwall 6/4 Draw 21/10 Preston 15/8

Millwall record against Preston

Won 28, Drawn 11, Lost 26

Last season

Preston 3-2 Millwall (Browne 37, Barkhuizen 42, Hughes 81; Cooper 61, Gregory 92); Millwall 1-3 Preston (Thompson 67; Hughes, 4, Clarke 16, Maguire 27).

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly