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Harris calls for focus at Middlesbrough

The boss looks for second away win of the campaign...

18 January 2019

Neil Harris is confident that his players can rise to “as tough a challenge as we can have” on Saturday afternoon as Millwall make the journey to the Riverside Stadium to face Middlesbrough in the Sky Bet Championship (kick-off 3pm).

The Lions’ last game on the road delivered a first away victory of the season, a 3-2 success over Ipswich Town.

“It will be a tough game and a good game,” Harris told

“I’ve spoken very highly before of Tony Pulis, and they have a really good squad.

“When I watched their game against Birmingham from last week, they were able to bring the likes of Stewart Downing, Paddy McNair and Britt Assombalonga off the bench, and it shows the strength in depth that they have.”

The manager acknowledged the step up in displays on the pitch from his team since Christmas, and looks forward to a contest in the “tough environment” of the Riverside.

“There’s certainly a challenge in front of us to try and replicate the result against Ipswich and give a good performance. We’ve had a strong upturn in results and performances since Christmas, and we want to continue that in a tough environment away at Middlesbrough.

“Whilst it’s about as tough a challenge as we could have at the moment, it’s one we will look forward to, and we want to follow up an eagerly-awaited first win on the road at Ipswich with another as quickly as possible.

“The players will now stop getting asked the question of when the first away win will come, and they can focus on trying to pick up points on the road.”

Harris highlighted the importance of remaining switched-on throughout at this level, explaining that The Championship holds very little margin for error.

“There’s no given right that we’ll go and win game after game – we saw first-hand last week how cruel football can be by coming away from a sure performance with nothing against Blackburn, who scored from their only efforts in our penalty area.

“We have to make sure we’re focused and at our best, because it’s very clear for me that when we’re at our best – individually and collectively – we’re a match for anybody, and we’ll get points. If we switch off for any moment, or we don’t have enough players at their best, then in this division we’ll get beaten.

“That has been a big difference between this year and last year – we’ve competed in every game, but a lot of the time we’ve fallen short when individuals have switched off for a moment.”

The boss finally confirms there are no major new fitness concerns in his squad, following last week’s significant blow of losing Tom Elliott to a dislocated shoulder early on against Blackburn Rovers.

“Everybody else is good, just the usual knocks and niggles from last week. The game probably comes too soon for Conor McLaughlin to come back into the reckoning, but otherwise everyone should be fit.”

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