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Harris looking to build on positives after Gills victory

Lions take a 2-1 friendly win home from the Priestfield

21 July 2019

Neil Harris has analysed the display from his Millwall side, after coming out as 2-1 winners from Gillingham on Sunday afternoon.

Jiri Skalak and Jake Cooper netted either side of half-time to cancel out a converted penalty from the hosts, and Harris says despite edginess in the physical battles of the game, the team gave him "exactly what we wanted".

"We came to Gillingham today knowing Steve Evans' boys would be right at it," the manager says.

"They were too. In some ways, it was a bit of a local derby, where there was a lot of direct play and a lot of second balls. The hustle-bustle wasn't something we've been used to in the last three weeks.

"At times we did get caught out by the physical battle, but we got exactly what we wanted today, so we're really pleased."

Harris states the side will continue taking and building on the positives, including a clean bill of health amongst the squad.

"First and foremost, it looks like no injuries, which is the key thing. There were some real positives for individual players, and players got vital minutes in the legs.

"We've played better than that over the course of pre-season so far, and we will continue to play better than that, but we certainly take the positives."

The boss also has a lot of praise for Czech international Skalak, who has "impressed" since returning for pre-season training last month.

"Jiri has been excellent. He's worked extremely hard over the summer back in the Czech Republic, with a personal trainer with our blessing. He has come back and impressed, and he knows he has to compete for a place.

"He is in better shape than last year, and I'm delighted with him - he deserved that goal, and whilst you don't normally celebrate goals in pre-season, you saw the reaction of his teammates."

Connor Mahoney also featured and claimed an assist for Cooper's winning header - something Harris is excited by.

"We saw some real good signs in Connor. He's a clever player who puts balls in the box, gets between the lines, and whilst he's a good modern all-round wide player, he also shows old-fashioned traits of wanting to cross the ball.

"He has shown the ability to cross with both feet, and his ability will excite the fans straight away."

Several senior players including Jed Wallace, Ben Thompson and Shaun Hutchinson were absent from the win - with every missing player expected to feature in Wednesday night's visit to Southend United.

"There's no point bringing another six players to get 15 minutes at the end of a game, and those players trained a real intense, short session, working extremely hard," Harris says.

"Those boys will be looking to play Wednesday with a mix of some of today's boys, and we'll likely be seeing nine or 10 senior players and one or two U23 lads starting. There might be one or two senior players to come off the bench for half an hour.

"The other boys will be left behind at Calmont Road, and they will train intensely on Wednesday."

The manager finally gives an update on further incomings, claiming the club are edging towards completing two deals.

"We are closer [to further signings]. We are very close to bringing in another midfield player, who we really look forward to working with. It's not quite over the line yet.

"We're then working extremely hard on one more, potentially with one going out and one coming in. We need three more players - we're very close to one, and not far off with the second."

 

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