Neil Harris has talked up the importance of Queens Park Rangers’ visit to Millwall this Saturday, as The Lions return to home turf following a three-week absence.
Harris’ men are unbeaten in three Den clashes so far this season, and the manager is excited for the competition between the two sides.
“It’s obviously a big game, and in the last couple of years we have seen some great atmospheres,” he said to millwallfc.co.uk.
“Last year was a competitive game, and the year before was a great occasion for the Millwall fans during a game around Christmas time with Ollie [Ian Holloway] coming back.
“London derbies at The Den are great – I really enjoy them. I loved them as a player and now as a manager, because of their competitive nature. Facing QPR might not necessarily carry the ‘bragging rights’ as it would against your West Hams, Palaces, Charltons, but they can certainly be feisty and you have to make sure you’re competitive in the game. Individually, if you have winners on the pitch over the opponent, then you should come out on top.”
Harris explains how his work has panned out in the opening stages of the campaign, and speaks of his joy at being back on home soil.
“We look at their shape compared to ours, and who comes out on top in individual battles. We’ve brought new personnel in and had a couple of good victories, and we’ve mixed things around – giving players an opportunity to play.
“But we are still finding our way – I’m still searching at times for good combinations in the play in certain areas of the pitch, and once that settles, we’ll be able to find some consistency in team selection and hopefully performances.
“We have seven points from a possible nine at home so far – it feels like we’ve barely kicked a ball at The Den this season because we’ve been on the road so often – so we’re really looking forward to being back. There’s an excitement among the players for it, and the fans should be buzzing.”
The boss is eager to make The Den a fortress this year, and analyses the preparation to face Mark Warburton’s QPR.
“You want to perform in front of your home fans, and you don’t want to get beaten – you want to continue an unbeaten record at The Den for as long as you can.
“We beat Preston at home on the opening weekend which was a hard-fought victory, we put in an outstanding performance against Sheffield Wednesday with 10 men for the majority, and we were much the better side against Hull but didn’t have that killer touch in the penalty area.
“We’re trying to find that combination of the elements of playing well, being creative and being hard to beat, to come out with the three points. We look to put in an assured performance – QPR as we know have had three good results, they’re a good side who have changed shape to a 3-5-2 with very dangerous attacking players. We have to ensure we defend well and keep a vital clean sheet mentality, which is important at this level at The Den.”
Harris finally gives an update regarding fitness, with Jiri Skalak still ruled out.
“We’re still waiting on Jiri. It’s unfortunately a slow process with him at the moment, he desperately wants to play but the longer he takes then the longer it is for him to get back up to match speed.
“Other than Jiri, we’re fit and healthy amongst the squad.”