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Harris upbeat after Braga showing

The boss has his say on an impressive showing

16 July 2019

Millwall boss Neil Harris was full of praise for his players after Tuesday night's pre-season friendly defeat to Braga.

The Portuguese giants were narrow victors at Estádio da Nora as goals from Palhinha and Andre Horta - either side of an Aiden O'Brien equaliser - secured a 2-1 victory the Primeira Liga outfit had to work extremely hard for.

Given the stature of their opposition it was an impressive display from The Lions and Harris was in a positive frame of mind following the final whistle in Portugal.

"What a great game," he said. "I'm really pleased. I thought we handled them really well.

"They showed moments of quality, of course, and I'm disappointed with the goals as we could do better, but some of our play was exceptional; our use of the ball, the way we kept it and how brave we were on it. Our decision-making was good.

"It was a great workout and to come on the back of the Fleetwood performance really bodes well for the season."

The players went through plenty of tactical preparation for the match and Harris expects progress to be made in that regard.

"We'll get better because we've got some new lads in who have still got to learn the ropes and the players who have done it for a while can still improve," he added.

"We worked on attacking play first (in pre-season) because I wanted us to have more of the ball against non-league sides coming into this trip. Once we got here we knew Fleetwood would want to dominate the ball and I wanted the players to find their own way of pressing and using possession. 

"This game we knew Braga would have the ball and that we would have to be at our best, as it's like playing against Premier League opposition. I thought the players adapted well and some of the decision-making without the ball was really good and there are certainly a lot of points we'll be able to take out of the game."

The manager also singled out Jiří Skalák for special praise afterwards.

The 27-year-old endured a frustrating first season at the club following his move from Brighton & Hove Albion last summer but has impressed Harris since the players returned to training in late June.

"Jiří has been excellent since the first day of pre-season," Harris said. "He has really come back with the bit between his teeth and a point to prove."

The players will train twice on Wednesday before returning to England on Thursday and the Lions boss is delighted with how his squad have trained and performed throughout their stay in Portugal.

"I'm delighted with the application of the players, their attitude and the togetherness they've got," Harris continued. 

"The camaraderie in the group has really gone up a notch this year. What I'm saying to the boys is that there are going to be teams out there who will push us really hard and be of real quality this year and so we need to find different ways (to be successful). We need to rely on our Millwall spirit and the togetherness at the club, as well as having the quality.

"As much as I know the spirit will get there because I've signed the right players, it is about that quality. The messages they're taking on at the moment that they're putting into training sessions and games is as good as at any time during my spell in charge."

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