Ben Thompson has reflected on making his first Sky Bet Championship start at the weekend as Millwall took a 1-1 draw from Middlesbrough, claiming he “enjoyed every minute”, playing the full game in a three-man midfield.
Thompson returned to The Den earlier this month after a successful spell on loan with League One leaders Portsmouth, under the stewardship of Kenny Jackett.
“I really enjoyed being back out there. Obviously, it was my first time being out there in a Millwall shirt in a while, and I enjoyed every minute,” the midfielder says.
“It was a tough contest, and I think we deserved three points. We played really well, and it was great to be back out there.
“To go to places like Boro’ – and you see the talent they have in their dressing room, the money they’ve spent and the size of the club – and to have deserved to win the game, you definitely go into the next game with massive confidence.”
Despite Thompson being cup-tied for Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round contest with Everton – along with Ben Marshall and Fred Onyedinma – he feels there is a positive buzz around Calmont Road ahead of the game and claims both he and the squad are fully capable of matching with the best teams.
“We know that we can compete with the top sides. For me on a personal note – I felt comfortable that I would be able to play in the Championship already – but this just proves to me that I can.
“Everyone’s buzzing [for Everton], the mood around training is good. Obviously, some of us are cup-tied, but it’s a good game to go into against a top Premier League team.”
The 23-year-old made 23 League appearances for Jackett’s Pompey side between August and January, earning plenty of plaudits on the south coast, and has explained the step up he has so far experienced between third and second tier football.
“There is of course a difference between the Championship and League One,” Thompson states.
“Players were stronger and faster to face last Saturday I felt, and they tend to be technically better – you get punished for your mistakes. The step up is tough, but I feel I can deal with that.”
Thompson is grateful for his opportunity at Fratton Park, and feels he has progressed as a player which can now benefit himself and The Lions.
“I think the loan did me the world of good. There’s nothing I can say bad about it, I enjoyed every minute and I feel I’ve certainly improved as a player.
“The guidance Kenny and Joe [Gallen] gave me throughout the first half of the season was second-to-none. I was obviously a bit hesitant at first to go out on loan as I’d never been to another club, but I definitely can’t fault how much of a big step it has been in my career, to now focus on going on and producing for Millwall.”