Neil Harris has branded Saturday evening’s Sky Bet Championship contest with Blackburn Rovers as Millwall's most vital game of the campaign so far, and says the momentum of The Lions has given the squad a huge boost on the training ground.
Harris’ men go into the match on the back of four straight victories, and the boss expects to see “a fast and furious game” as Tony Mowbray’s side enter The Lions’ Den.
“It has to be [the biggest game of the season so far],” the manager told millwallfc.co.uk.
“It’s a good ask for us – the players have been outstanding in training and there’s a real buzz around the place. We had some important games over the Christmas period – Reading was massive, as we hadn’t won for a period. Forest is always a good occasion because we have a good rivalry against them, and they’re a big club. Then we went to Ipswich, which was their Cup Final, and we came away with the three points.
“Hull was important to carry on momentum, and now we find ourselves up next against Blackburn on the back of four straight wins, and three in the League. It’s also a huge game because Blackburn aren’t a million miles in front of us, and they’ve had a really good campaign so far in my opinion. I really enjoy the way they play. They’re direct, but they have some really good footballers as well, and they mix it very well.
“I think it’ll be a fast and furious game, a great one for the fans to see, and a good one for the Sky cameras. Blackburn were terrific in League One last year, and they’ve come into The Championship and done really well. The money they’ve spent has shown where they want to be as a club, and shows that they’ve had to take a step backwards to go forward.”
Harris has given a further update after the beginning of the week on the progress of his injured players, and touches on The Lions’ recently returned loanees.
“Straight away comes the bad news, and it’s going to be about eight weeks out for Ben Amos, certainly he’s out of the picture for the forthcoming games. Shaun Hutchinson is a bizarre one, because we have to take it day-by-day with such a freak injury. We’ll be trying to get him out onto the training pitch and get him involved – it will be 10 minutes at a time to find out how he gets on.
“Lee Gregory’s progressing really well, and it doesn’t look as if it will be the four to six weeks that we first feared. He’s done a bit of work outside running-wise, although the weekend will probably come just too soon for him.
“The players who have come back in [from loan] have been outstanding. There have been enquiries for all four of the loanees that have returned, though as we stand, they’re all staying with us. I’m looking forward to welcoming them back into the group – all four of them are great personalities around the place, and a real boost to the squad. We’re working hard to bring at least one fresh face in, then we can reassess where we are after that.”
The boss finally reflects on being paired with Premier League outfit Everton at The Den in the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round, which will be played at the end of this month.
“It’s a great draw, certainly for the players to want to play in, and for the fans to come along and support the team against a Premier League giant and a massive club in Everton.
“It’s well deserved after a good performance and victory over Hull in the last round – it’s the sort of game you want in the Cup. We’ve had some really good occasions at The Den in the last few years, and the players will thrive playing in that atmosphere.
“Whilst it’s certainly a game to look forward to, we have to be realistic that we’re not going to win that competition, and The Championship is what we’re focusing on at the moment, and it brings us onto a massive game at the weekend against Blackburn.”