BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Neil Harris reckons his Millwall starting line-up on Saturday will give a strong hint to the team that faces Middlesbrough next weekend – but that there will be tweaks for the Championship opener.
The Lions face German side VfL Bochum tomorrow in Jimmy Abdou’s testimonial game. It is the South London club’s final major warm-up before the visit of Boro to the Den on August 4.
Millwall produced a poor first 45 minutes in Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat at Colchester United.
Lions boss Harris is not saying how many of his players have already nailed down their starting slot for the clash with Tony Pulis’ big-spending Teessiders.
“I don’t want to put a number,” he said. “You have to think about the opposition as well.
“It will be a different team for Middlesbrough than if we faced Brentford or Derby. It is not just about having a starting 11 for that first game. The team that plays against Middlesbrough may be different from the one that plays Blackburn – it could be a different shape.
“The game on Saturday will give an indication to the rough set up. Don’t think for one minute that the team I pick on Saturday will be the same as I pick for the following Saturday.
“You are looking at combination play and there are still a couple of areas where I’ve got a decision to make. There has been a lot of good stuff over pre-season and also some things I have not liked.
“For 45 minutes on Tuesday night we were disappointing. One team played like it was a cup final and the other played like it was a pre-season friendly.
“I’ve got to make sure that I don’t pick that side again. That is the process which has been going on for the whole of pre-season.
“There are combinations I know work unbelievably well – not just last season but in the last three years. Do I need to see them again before the season starts? Not necessarily. You need to learn what people can and can’t do. Over the course of the last six weeks, all that mattered was what will happen on August 4.”
Harris confirmed earlier this week that the Lions are moving closer to their third capture of the summer.
The South London Press understands that their pursuit of Barnsley striker Tom Bradshaw is over – barring a shift in the stance of the League One club.
Harris will not talk about individual players. He said: “What I’m learning is not to count your chickens before they actually hatch. It is another scenario where we have to be patient right until the last minute.
“But we have progressed on a player in the last week. There is a little bit more work to get it over the line.”
IMAGE BY BRIAN TONKS
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