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Harris: “Games like this one are what the FA Cup is all about”

Manager rallies players and fans ahead of Toffees tie at The Den

25 January 2019

Neil Harris has built the anticipation for Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round tie with Everton at The Den, describing the game as "intriguing and exciting."

Millwall are preparing to face Marco Silva’s Premier League outfit this weekend after Shane Ferguson’s dramatic late double secured passage into the Fourth Round at the expense of Hull City earlier this month.

“This is an intriguing and exciting Cup-tie against a Premier League giant,” Harris says in his matchday programme notes ahead of this weekend's match.

“Games like this one are what the FA Cup is all about. It's an underdog in ourselves against a huge football club with fantastic heritage and history within the game. It is an opportunity for ourselves to try and cause a shock. We are live in front of the BBC cameras because this is a traditional Cup game. We saw Newport County beat Leicester City in the last round - the Cup can be a real leveller.

“We are looking forward to the challenge that awaits. The value of the Everton team that played at Southampton last weekend was something – monetary-wise – we can only dream about.”

The manager reflects on last weekend’s draw at Middlesbrough, a game which The Lions led for a long period before coming away from the Riverside with a respectable point.

“We come into this one on the back of an outstanding performance at Middlesbrough last week, where ultimately, we deserved all three points. Certainly, going into the game, I would've taken the standard of the performance, individually and collectively, and the point, but when you are leading so late in the game, you want all three.

“Conceding late again is an area of great debate for everybody, but one we have to learn from and continuing to try and improve on over the course of 90 minutes.

“There were some outstanding performances, none more so than the two Bens – Thompson and Marshall – who both came back into the squad.”

Harris claims there is a big opportunity for the whole squad on Saturday, with a handful of players missing through injury or having played for another club in the competition, and adds a brief note on the transfer market.

“With players being Cup-tied and injuries to key players, there is certainly an opportunity this weekend for other players. At this stage of the season, why we are trying to add to the squad, it is important that everyone realises it will be a squad game over the second half of the campaign.

“We're really pleased to have brought Alex Pearce and Marshy into the club, and we are busy trying to add one more, with the possibility that a player or two then might be able to leave, but we need to have options going forward.”

The boss is confident that many of his squad are now back to their best in the midst of improved form since Christmas, and calls for the supporters to provide an iconic 12th man contribution for the tie.

“We need to have a competitive nature within the squad, and good players in form. Since the turn of the year, we have players in form and performing back to, or near, their best.

“If we are going to try and continue the upward fortunes and results that we've had in the League and Cup so far, then we need to keep working hard as a group.

“As always, myself and the players ask you, the supporters, to create the atmosphere we hear at The Den week in, week out, and make it a cracking evening of Cup football.”

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