Millwall’s Byron Webster has described his return to Sky Bet Championship action as ‘emotional’, as he played the full match for The Lions in Saturday’s clash with West Bromwich Albion.
Despite eventually slipping to a 2-0 defeat at The Hawthorns, Neil Harris’ men showed promise and were on top in considerable parts of the game, something Webster says has been a running occurrence so far this season.
“It’s not the result we wanted, but when you look at the games – Middlesbrough, Swansea, Leeds… we should have won those, and we could have been about nine or 12 points better off,” the defender states.
“We went back to basics after last Wednesday against QPR, and made sure we went back to at least being hard to beat. It might not have been as easy on the eye as last year, but we try to be rugged and keep our shape.
“We tried to force mistakes from West Brom, they didn’t find it easy. We looked to counter attack with pace, especially with players like Jed [Wallace], Jiri [Skalak] and then when Aiden [O’Brien] came on.”
Webster claims the players enjoyed the challenge and are aiming to take the positives from the game, but the bottom line is that results must improve.
“Looking at it as a team, we quite enjoyed it. We hope the fans did too. But at the end of the day, we came away with zero points.
“You need to make your own luck in this game. Luck might not be on our side, but when we get chances we need to put them away, and at the other end we have to defend – which we did in large patches against West Brom but still conceded two goals.”
The encounter at The Hawthorns was Webster’s first Championship start since picking up his lengthy knee injury in September 2017 – a milestone he labels as ‘emotional’ after silencing his doubters.
“It’s emotional [to return to League action] in a way, because there are so many people who doubt you.
“They doubt whether you’ll come back. I’ve had to stay mentally strong and it has been tough, but I’ve got a good family around me, even on the morning of the game my little girl was messaging me ‘well done, Daddy’ off her iPad – I need to check out how she’s done that!”
The 31-year-old also commends everyone at the club who has stood by him and aided his recovery, with a special mention to the fitness and sports science staff.
“I can’t thank the players that have been around me enough, even with being on the periphery for a long time I’ve still been involved, and I owe everything to Bloomy [Laurence Bloom] and Paul [Tanner].
“It was great to be out there, I was nervous beforehand but it’s another hurdle cleared for me.
“I’m only going to get stronger. There might be some dips, but the more I play, the quicker I’ll get to the top again.”
Webster then previews this week’s Carabao Cup Third Round tie with Premier League outfit Fulham, claiming the squad relish the regular task of facing top teams.
“[Fulham] is another good game, and another London derby. Gone are the days – with all due respect – where we were travelling here, there and everywhere to play sides in League One. We’re playing big teams, and maybe the expectation on us has gone up from last year and rightly so.
“We’re enjoying coming to places like The Hawthorns, coming and giving a good account of ourselves, and then preparing to face Fulham.
“The results haven’t arrived just yet, but the performance [at the weekend] was there in large parts. We’ll keep grafting and keep working.”