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Harris excited by Christmas schedule as Millwall's list of games in 2015/16 is confirmed

17 June 2015

Manager Neil gives his in-depth reaction on fixture release day

Millwall boss Neil Harris says opening day opponents Shrewsbury Town will provide his side with a "stern test" at the start of the new campaign.

The club's list of League fixtures for 2015/16 was released this morning, confirming that Millwall begin with an away match for the first time since the 2011/12 season.

Shrewsbury were promoted from League Two at the end of the last campaign and Harris believes the encounter will help to give Millwall a greater understanding of the quality of opposition in 2015/16.

"It's certainly a tough one to start," Harris told millwallfc.co.uk.

"What they have is momentum but, similar to us, they also have that element of the unknown going into a new division.

"It's a good one for them to start with, to come up against a big club just relegated from the Championship, but it's also great for us and will be a real stern test.

"I know the manager, Micky Mellon, very well, and I know his team will be strong and organised. They will have a very good work ethic and they have some dangerous players, so straight away it will give us a real understanding of the division we're playing in and the opposition we will be facing."

After that game Millwall have three matches at The Den inside a week - starting with the Capital One Cup First Round tie against Barnet followed by League encounters with Coventry City and Barnsley. 

"If we are to cement home form as the backbone of our season then we have a real opportunity to show that in those three fixtures," Harris added.

"The start of the season is always the unknown but how we are shaping up will be a lot clearer by the end of July.

"I'm clear in my mind in terms of how I want us to play, the style of football, the formation and the players I want to use.

"But until you get out on the pitch and see the players perform you don't know quite what you are going to get from your group. 

"Certainly by the end of August, having played some difficult fixtures, we will understand more about the capabilities of the players, especially at The Den."

The fixture computer has been kind to Millwall over the Christmas period with home games against Gillingham on December 19th and against Walsall on Boxing Day, which is followed by a short trip to Southend United two days later.

"The Christmas period in general, starting at home to Gillingham, is exciting for us," Harris said. "It is the big local derby of the season and, with the games that follow it, makes for a great set of fixtures over that busy period.

"The other game that stands out is the last game of the season when we're away to Gillingham."

One source of disappointment for Harris, however, was that Millwall face long Tuesday night away trips to Wigan Athletic, Blackpool and Fleetwood Town.

"We've always had big support at those types of places as the supporters like to make a real weekend of it," he said.

"It's a shame and disappointment for the fans, but also for the players as well because of the travelling. 

"I know plenty of our supporters will still travel to get behind their team but it doesn't make that easy for them.

"All in all I'm quite satisfied by the list, though. There are other periods which are really good for us."

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