BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Millwall are set to find out the full extent of Jake Cooper’s shoulder injury today – with fears it is likely to end his season.
The centre-back came off in the 20th minute of Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Birmingham with the issue.
Cooper initially suffered a dislocation in the reverse fixture at the end of November. The Lions were hoping he might be able to avoid surgery until the close season.
Millwall’s injury issues are building with Kenneth Zohore also believed to have suffered ankle ligament damage.
Cooper had played every minute in 136 successive league fixtures for the South Londoners before sitting out the trip to Blackburn in December.
“We think he has dislocated the shoulder but in a slightly different way,” said Rowett.
“He is seeing a specialist Friday and it looks very likely he’ll have an operation. If he does it would probably mean he is ruled out for the season. That’s me speculating – because he has damaged another part which had added a bit of stability and was okay before.
“There isn’t a lot of security or stability in the shoulder. The fabulous news would be that he hasn’t got to do it [have an op now]. We hoped we could get to the point where we didn’t need to have him available for the last three or four games – if we’d got enough points and weren’t fighting to get in the top six – that we could give him a headstart on his recovery.
“But you wouldn’t want to keep playing him if there is the threat of the shoulder keep going all the time.”
Zohore, 27, has struggled with injuries since arriving on loan from West Brom in October.
He had featured in nine straight matches before coming off in Saturday’s victory at Reading. Prior that he to that he had missed 12 matches with a calf problem.
“He is another one seeing a specialist at the end of the week,” said Rowett. “I believe he will probably be between four to eight weeks. There is some sort of damage to the ligament at the front of the ankle.”
Millwall have already seen Ryan Leonard ruled out for a number of weeks after he injured his ankle in the 4-1 home win over Sheffield Wednesday.
Murray Wallace (broken foot) and Connor Mahoney (quad) are also unavailable.
Maikel Kieftenbeld (hamstring) could be back for tomorrow’s home game against Wycombe Wanderers but Shaun Williams (broken toe) is unlikely to be risked.
“It was going to be a challenge for any club when they are asked to play Saturday, then a Tuesday or Wednesday and then again on a Saturday,” said Rowett. “When that is happening continually then something is going to break – players aren’t robots.
“A lot of clubs are experiencing the same. You have not got a week to recover between matches or the chance to do a lot of gym work – they can’t use the gym because of covid. There are a lot of factors why there are more injuries. With a small squad you are always going to get hit hard if you get them.
“Maikel will have a chance of being back for Wycombe but whether we risk him or not is a different debate.
“With Willo we are trying to give a little period for his toe to settle down, like we did with Mahlon [Romeo]. He will have an injection and I don’t think Willo will be out for a long time.
“We are where we are. Ken, Lenny and Coops are quite big losses. Particularly with Coops and Lenny it just means you have a lack of flexibility in certain areas when you want to do certain things.”
Millwall are unbeaten in seven Championship matches and joint fifth for a form guide over the last six fixtures.
“It’s going to be a test now but I’d rather be tested on the back of a good run than on the back of a poor run,” said Rowett.
“It’s an opportunity – you saw Billy Mitchell come on and do really well on Wednesday night, you can see what a good player he is going to be.
“Thommo [Ben Thompson] is becoming a regular for us. You can see him growing – that was his third goal in a fairly short space of time. We’re going to need everybody.
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