TOM Bradshaw admitted his time out injured has given him a new appreciation of playing – and revealed watching Lee Gregory helped him understand what it takes to prosper as a Millwall striker.
Bradshaw scored his first competitive goal in 367 days as Millwall came from behind to defeat West Brom on Tuesday night.
Bradshaw headed in Jiri Skalak’s free-kick after Charlie Austin’s debut Baggies goal, before Aiden O’Brien’s 55th-minute winner booked Millwall a trip to Oxford in the second round.
Millwall paid a then-record club transfer fee to bring Bradshaw to The Den from Barnsley last year, but the striker tore his cruciate ligament against Brentford last November and missed the rest of the season.
Lions boss Neil Harris kept him involved, urging him to study how Gregory played. Gregory was arguably the Lions’ most important player towards the end of last season, helping them beat the drop before leaving for Stoke on a free transfer this summer.
Bradshaw’s goal was his first in his 13th appearance for the club.
“It was an amazing feeling,” he said. “To have an injury like that so early in my Millwall career, it was frustrating sitting on the sidelines watching the boys without being able to help. It’s been amazing to be back with the group and to score my first goal is a brilliant feeling.
“Even though I didn’t play a lot last year I feel like I learned a lot watching the way Greggs played, he was at the club for years and mastered the way a striker should play for Millwall.
“Speaking to the gaffer as well I feel like I’ve got a really good understanding of what he wants from me. Hopefully I can apply that and put in some big performances.
“Greggs was instrumental to the success Millwall have had the last four or five years, he’s a great player. I learned from the way he put in a shift, held the ball up, made channel runs and I tried to take what I could from watching and apply it to my own game. Hopefully I can perform to a similar level this year.
“It was a long time on the sidelines and getting my head around it. Mentally it makes you appreciate playing more. I try to put in good performances for the team week-in, week-out, and I’ve always scored goals throughout my career. It’s nice to be back on the scoresheet and hopefully I can kick on now.”
Bradshaw, 27, insisted he was always positive during his recovery.
“The lads were a really big help,” he said. “It’s a long time to be out and you naturally feel a little bit isolated but the lads, the gaffer, the whole club was brilliant in keeping me involved. Everyone rallied around which was brilliant for me.
“Anyone that knows me knows I’m quite a positive person so I didn’t dwell on the negatives. My daughter was born a couple of weeks after [the injury] so that was the biggest distraction I could have asked for in those couple of months.
“It was just about achieving small milestones and it was all worth it for a night like [Tuesday].”
Image: Millwall FC