Neil Harris has spoken in high spirits of the impact Connor Mahoney can make at Millwall, describing the winger as an “exciting young player”.
The 22-year-old arrives at The Den from AFC Bournemouth for an undisclosed fee, and signs a long-term contract having made 30 Sky Bet Championship appearances on loan at Birmingham City last campaign.
“We’re very pleased to bring Connor to the club,” Harris told millwallfc.co.uk.
“His crossing stats in The Championship last year were very impressive, the best in the League in fact for balls into the box and the quality of balls into the box.
“He’s a player who can take set-pieces with both feet which shows the quality he possesses, and he’s an exciting young player. To be able to bring him into the club in the long-term is good business by us.”
The manager has lauded Mahoney’s work-rate since his rise into senior football with Blackburn Rovers, and is glad to add to the ranks in the wide areas.
“Connor has definitely had a good footballing upbringing and a good pedigree with Blackburn and Bournemouth. At Bournemouth, they do things right down there – the players have to be at it with their tempo in training and the way they play.
“He brings a real good work ethic with him, coming from his loan at Birmingham last year. They played similar to us in a 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1, and players have to work extremely hard without the ball as well as with the ball. When you have got the ball, you have to make it count and play with quality, so Connor comes in knowing how to play in a style that has suited us.
“What he will do is add a competitive nature to the wide areas, and having the likes of Matt Smith and Tom Bradshaw in the penalty area – as well as another striker we are trying to bring in who attacks crosses – means it is important we have players out wide who can deliver the ball. Connor certainly fits that bill.”
Harris praises the progress of Mahoney during last season’s loan spell in the West Midlands, and explains the competition his squad possesses.
“Connor won the Young Player of the Season award at Birmingham last year, which is no mean feat in the side they had with some good young players. He played a lot of football last season and played very well, so we’re hoping that he hits the ground running with us. Bringing him in now is vital as it enables him to come to Portugal, and we can get some very good messages into him.”
“We have Aiden who can play out wide and has played well and scored goals from that position, though we could be looking to use him more centrally. Jiri has come back very fit and strong, looking like the player we expected to sign. Jed has been outstanding, and Fergie as we know has great quality – although we see him as an option at left-back as well.
“To have a natural left-footer on that side who can compete with Fergie is important for us, and Connor is also comfortable on both wings. He’s naturally left-footed, but it’s hard to tell with his ability with both feet.”
Having secured his fourth senior recruit of the summer, the boss wraps up by discussing the positive influence the imminent training camp in Portugal will have on the squad, including the gelling of new arrivals such as Mahoney.
“Portugal is huge for getting the players in, it gives them that chance to bond. It’s a huge opportunity to nail down the collective and individual messages to players, and the squad are around each other 24/7 for seven days.
“The new players can get to know each other, too. Connor is a fine young man with a settled home life – it’s important as ever to bring in the right characters. We’ve brought good experience into the group with Alex [Pearce], Frank [Fielding] and Matt [Smith], and we need younger players around them. That’s four players now, we’re really pleased with the mix we’ve got, and hopefully there are more to come.
“It’s starting to come together now. I said I wanted the players out that I wanted out, and the players in that I wanted in, and so far, we’re on track for that.”