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Harris looking forward to "challenge" of back-to-back away games

The manager previews Saturday's London derby...

2 November 2018

Millwall boss Neil Harris has stressed the importance of taking "momentum" into this Saturday's trip to Brentford.

The Lions travel across London to take on The Bees (kick-off 3pm) currently in possession of three wins in their last four matches, with encouraging performances away from home at Nottingham Forest and Reading lending their weight to the bid to claw themselves away from the relegation zone.

The club are, however, without a victory to their name on the road so far in 2018/19.

Coming off the back of consecutive home successes against Wigan Athletic and Ipswich Town, though, the boss told millwallfc.co.uk that the mood at Calmont Road is one of optimism.

"As ever, the atmosphere has been great because the lads are brilliant," he said. "They work hard, love coming into training and love the coaching.

"There's been some good work, probably going back to the last international break. We've got some really good work into the lads, mentally and physically, and performances and results have escalated from there.

"We're nowhere near the finished article - yes, we've had a good 10 points from five games, found some form and put in some really strong performances, even in the games we've not won. Reading and Nottingham Forest were probably two of the best.

"We have to take that momentum into a tough game on Saturday against Brentford, but the work at Calmont Road has been excellent. Some boys have got minutes in the Under 23s which, result aside, is important for the first team players to get some minutes in the legs to be in contention for the weekend or future weeks."

On their travels, The Lions find themselves in a similar position to last year, having threatened to claim all three points at opposition grounds but ultimately winless.

That all changed in 2017/18 on a dramatic afternoon at Elland Road against Leeds United last January - but the manager doesn't want to wait that long this time round.

"We find ourselves a bit similar to last year, where we're putting in some really strong performances and dominating teams, but not getting the reward. Last year we didn't change a great deal, we just found momentum and belief, but we certainly don't want to wait that long this time.

"We're looking at back-to-back away games as a challenge for us, but also an opportunity to get that first win. Various thoughts go through your mind about shape changes, personnel, doing things slightly different, but you also look at the last two performances where we were excellent.

"The biggest thing for me is the mental side of things, keeping the goals against column at zero or one at the most, to give ourselves a chance of scoring from a set-play or on the counter-attack and get a point, or winning with a clean sheet.

"At the moment, we've conceded one and then gone on to concede two or three - that's what has got to stop. It's not been acceptable, but that's not just the goalkeeper and the back four, that's the whole team. The mentality is something we've talked about and focussed on."

Meanwhile, Jed Wallace missed last Saturday's victory over The Tractor Boys and is doubtful for the weekend's encounter with Thomas Frank's side - but the return of Shaun Hutchinson was a welcome one.

"It was great to have Hutch back in. We had no Jed last week, so we'll see how he goes approaching the game. It's a long shot for him, though, for him to play any part would be a bonus. I'm certainly not going to rule him out - I'll give him every opportunity, certainly up to Friday's training session, maybe even Saturday morning, to prove his fitness."


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