Jake Cooper has spoken of overcoming the pressure to maintain Millwall’s place in the Sky Bet Championship for next season.
The defender was an integral part of The Lions’ side throughout 2018/19, playing every minute of every League match.
“We were under a bit of pressure to stay in the League, some of it maybe unexpected at the start of the season,” Cooper told millwallfc.co.uk.
“We had to be strong mentally and physically, and we needed the strength in the squad to come out the other end. Thankfully, we got the results that mattered and we can now start thinking ahead to next season.
“We have another year in The Championship, and it’s important to improve on our points total.”
Cooper states the defensive contribution from the team as a whole improved throughout the season, resulting in fewer late goals conceded than the opening months.
“Our good results during the season have always come from the way we’ve defended – not just from myself or the back line, but as a team.
“That gives us a base to play from and we always think we can score goals. If we keep clean sheets, we know we can pick up good results.
“Maybe that was lacking a bit at the start of the season, conceding a lot of late goals and giving up plenty of points.”
The ever-present scored six goals and claimed an equal number of assists in the League this season, a record goal involvement for a defender in 2018/19.
“Obviously, I’ve been delighted to be involved in so many goals.
“In fact, I was maybe a bit disappointed that I wasn’t able to make that tally even higher, particularly in the latter stages of the season.
“I’ll still be looking to improve on that front next season, and to have been able to get the game time I have – and to experience the survival battle – has been massive for me. Hopefully, it can stand me in good stead for the future.”
Cooper, who was named Neil Harris’ Young Player of the Year for a second successive campaign, finally looks ahead to the summer period of recuperation before the squad’s return to Calmont Road for pre-season training.
“First and foremost, we can get some rest in our legs, spend time with our families and do things we weren’t doing whilst the season was going on.
“I’ll make sure I’m ready for pre-season and we’ll take it from there, seeing what the manager does with the squad, and we’ll come in again fighting.”