Ryan Leonard has emphasised the importance of playing the full match on Sunday afternoon as Millwall secured a 2-1 pre-season victory at Gillingham.
The midfielder was absent from the squad’s recent training camp in Portugal due to the birth of his first child, and is subsequently looking to make up the ground in terms of fitness.
“It was a really good game and a good workout for us, especially the boys who got 90 minutes,” Leonard says.
“It was quite competitive to be fair. For a friendly, there were a lot of tackles going in and they gave a good account of themselves. We got the win – which isn’t really as important now – but it’s important definitely to get the minutes in the legs.
“I trained with Nuge [Kevin Nugent] and the young lads for a week whilst our boys were in Portugal. It wasn’t quite the same intensity so I have a bit of catching up to do, and the gaffer gave me 90 minutes here. I just have to work hard in training this week and get back to that level, which I’m confident I’ll be able to do.”
This year represents Leonard’s first pre-season in a Lions shirt, having arrived at the club on August deadline day last campaign.
“It’s nice to get a full pre-season with the club and start the season here, which I didn’t get to do last year,” the midfield man explains.
“Hopefully my fitness levels will be better than they were last year, which is what I’d like to focus my game on and get up to speed with the other lads. The gaffer likes to instil a lot of his tactical work in pre-season as well as his fitness work as well, which means it’s important that myself and the other lads are getting a full pre-season.
“We have two games left before the season starts, and when we face Preston, we’ll be raring to go.”
Before making his move to Championship football, Leonard spent seven years with Southend United, playing for some of that spell alongside now-manager Neil Harris.
Harris takes his Lions side back to Roots Hall this Wednesday night, with Leonard hoping to feature some part in the contest.
“It’ll be nice to go back there if the gaffer gives me a few minutes.
“I have quite a lot of friends there, so I’m looking forward to hopefully being there.”
New father Leonard finally touches on his brilliant family news, hoping it can in turn inspire him on the pitch.
“At the moment, so far so good. It’s been a tough week so far, but it’s been brilliant and it’s changed my life.
“It’s something I’m really buzzing about, and I’m hoping I can take that buzz onto the pitch.”