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Harris on injuries, loans and transfer window

Manager gives an update on fitness and shaping his squad this month

7 January 2019

Neil Harris spoke to the media following Millwall’s 2-1 Emirates FA Cup Third Round victory over Hull City, and has given a fitness update on the absentees in his squad – with Ben Amos and Conor McLaughlin ruled out of Sunday's tie alongside Shaun Hutchinson and Lee Gregory.

“Ben Amos chipped a bone in his finger on Friday in training, and we’re waiting to find out the extent of the damage following an x-ray on Saturday,” the manager explained.

“Will Shaun Hutchinson be involved Saturday? Possibly – it’s a bizarre one. He’s fine walking around, but we don’t know until he can put a shin-pad on and get out on the training pitch. We’ll have to see how he goes, but I thought Alex Pearce came in and was excellent on his debut.

“Conor McLaughlin has a quad injury. He tried to get out there in training the other day, but he wasn’t right so he’s still going to be a few weeks.”

The boss has claimed that once circumstances are clear, decisions will be made concerning players leaving the club on loan, with The Lions’ four recent loanees returning to The Den.

“Once we’ve got a clear understanding of where our injured lads are at, we can start assessing what to do with regards to loan players. A key movement for us is that we have Fred Onyedinma back, and he has looked unplayable in two days’ training. He was cup-tied and couldn’t be involved at the weekend, so he comes into the reckoning for Saturday.

“We are also bringing Ben Thompson back from Portsmouth, Tom King from AFC Wimbledon and Sid Nelson from Swindon – all of them have the possibility of going back out again. We let them all out on loan because they need to play at a young age to gain experience – they’re good lads and great players.

“But we also have to ensure we don’t leave ourselves short. Bringing the four boys back thickens our squad for the time being, and gives us the opportunity to assess the transfer window. If players do need to go out and play football, then I’ve got no problem with it.”

Harris confirmed Sky Bet League One leaders Portsmouth will have first refusal on midfielder Thompson should Millwall decide to let him spend the rest of the season out on loan, and claimed he holds high hopes for the 23-year-old.

“Yes, of course [Portsmouth have first refusal]. Ben has had a fantastic loan and has been absolutely outstanding. Going to work under Kenny Jackett has been brilliant for him as well.

“We’ve missed Ben this season. It was the right thing to let him go, because he didn’t play a lot of football in the second half of last season and needs to progress, which he has done. But we’ve missed him around the training ground, in the dressing room and on the pitch. I know we’ve just won four games in a row, but before then we hadn’t won in nine – Ben would have been a big player for us during that period.

“In my opinion, Ben will certainly captain this club in the future, and could go all the way to the top level.”

Nelson is currently being assessed regarding a knee injury, with Harris stating that the defender could return to Wiltshire once fully fit.

“There’s every chance that Sid will return to Swindon. He has had an excellent loan and really grown in stature and confidence. I’ve watched him personally a couple of times this season and he has been outstanding. Sid jarred his knee last week blocking a shot, and we’re monitoring him this week.”

The manager concluded by confirming that The Lions remain active in the transfer market following Alex Pearce’s arrival.

“Whether it’s in the next week or two weeks, there will be movement with players coming into the club, that’s for sure. We need to add to the squad, and we’ll certainly be looking to add a fresh face to our attacking options.”

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