PREVIEW: Millwall vs. Charlton Athletic

GARY Rowett is looking forward to experiencing a “full and vibrant Den” when Millwall aim to extend their long unbeaten run over Charlton this weekend.

The Lions last lost to their south London neighbours in March 1996, when current Addicks manager Lee Bowyer and striker Carl Leaburn scored in a 2-0 win at The Valley.

Millwall have won five of the 10 fixtures between the sides since then, the last a 3-1 victory in December 2016 when Steve Morison scored a brace and Aiden O’Brien was also on target.

Charlton, though, are four points above Millwall in the Championship table, increasing the pressure on Rowett’s side to get a result.

Millwall have lost just once this season at The Den, which is sold out for Saturday’s game.

Millwall delivered contrasting performances in Rowett’s first two games in charge, losing 2-1 at Reading after the impressive 2-0 win over Stoke.

“The first home game for us was a good experience for us in terms of the performance and the atmosphere,” Rowett said. “I can only imagine what a full and vibrant Den is going to feel like.

“Every game is such a learning experience for us in terms of how players handle situations, about what we need to do in certain games, what we need to do against certain opposition.

“It’s the third game, we want a performance slightly more akin to the first half against Stoke as opposed to the first half against Reading.

“That’s what we’ll be looking to do.”

Rowett will be without Frank Fielding, Ryan Leonard and Tom Elliott this weekend, while when he spoke to NewsAtDen earlier in the week the squad was further depleted.

“Pearcey [Alex Pearce] was ill [Tuesday]. Jason McCarthy’s got a little bit of an issue that he might not train for the next day or two. But I don’t think they’re any real problems,” Rowett said.

“What it does is highlight how small the group is, but again there are positives and negatives to that. It just means that if two or three players are out at any one point you just struggle in terms of numbers.

“It’s something that we’ll look at moving forward.”

Charlton would have moved into the top six if they had beaten Preston at The Valley last Sunday. Instead they toiled as they lost 1-0 to Preston, who went top before West Brom’s 2-0 win at Stoke on Monday night.

Bowyer will be without some of his main players. Strikers Lee Taylor and Chuks Aneke are out, as is midfielder Jonny Williams.

“We’ll just keep going, we’ll keep fighting and competing and trying to do the right things in training. We’re getting better. [Sunday], we’ve lost against a good, experienced, side that have gone top," Bowyer said.

“It’s difficult because you can’t rotate and play the players that you want to play all the time. People that are coming off the bench, you want them to have an impact and it’s not really happening at the moment.”

Bowyer’s Charlton are trying to end that run of more than 23 years without beating their rivals.

He said: “You have to have a reaction going there. Again, we’ll be ready, and we’ll put this one behind us. We haven’t had many bad games. We’ll put that behind us and move on.”

Possible Millwall starting XI: 4-4-1-1: Bialkowski; Romeo, Hutchinson, Cooper, M Wallace; J Wallace, Molumby, Williams, Mahoney; Thompson; Bradshaw.

Match odds: Millwall EVS Draw 23/10 Charlton 13/5

Last meeting: Charlton 0-0 Millwall (League One, January 14, 2017)

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly