By RICHARD CAWLEY
There are people writing off Millwall’s play-off prospects – but Jed Wallace is not one of them.
The Lions have taken two points from a possible nine since the Championship cranked back into action last month, a tally which has dropped them into mid-table.
But livewire attacker Wallace, 26, is refusing to call it quits for a top-six spot ahead of tonight’s South London derby at Charlton.
Asked if Millwall are in or out of the promotion chase, the attacker said: “We’re in – 100 per cent. We’re in because if you put back-to-back wins together then it will be tight.
“If Cardiff had won on Tuesday night then you’re probably thinking it is difficult.
“We always knew going into this block of nine games that we were probably going to need five wins – minimum. That doesn’t change, apart from the fact we now need to win five out of six – or at least four out of six – to give ourselves a chance.
“I know a lot of other top teams have got to play each other, when you look on paper then technically we should have a better chance of beating a lot of the teams we’ve got to play. But for Millwall that means nothing anyway – we’re probably better off playing against Barcelona and Real Madrid than Barnsley or Wigan. It’s typical of how we’ve been at times, and I think the supporters would tell you that.
“If we continue to improve game to game, particularly like we have from the Barnsley game to the one on Tuesday night [a 1-1 draw with Swansea] then we’ll certainly win a few games before the season ends.
“If we don’t finish in the play-offs then I definitely want to be finishing comfortably inside that top 10 so that you look at last season as a bad season, and that for two of the three seasons [since promotion] Millwall have been a top-10 team.
“How much we’ve improved since the gaffer has come in sets us up nicely going into next season to kick on again.”
Millwall manager Gary Rowett has talked about adding more quality offensive options to his side in the close season.
But Wallace has delivered 10 goals and also moved on to double figures for assists – cuing up Mason Bennett to open his account in midweek.
The Lions were forced to settle for their 17th draw of the season – the highest in the Championship.
Wallace has created 82 chances, 55 more than any of his team-mates.
“With the way that we’ve played under the gaffer and been really good on the counter-attack then maybe a little more pace and power would help,” said the former Portsmouth and Wolves man. “You saw that with Benno. I know what a good player he is. The biggest challenge with Benno is keeping him fit. If we can do that we’ve got a top player.
“The lads love him. He’s a great lad to have around the place who is hungry to do well. He loves it at Millwall and the manager knows him from before.
“He’s given us a different dimension. The manager has got a few different variants with Matt Smith and Tom Bradshaw – very different centre-forwards.
“We need to improve on that last little bit of quality and chip in with goals from all over the park. Muzza [Murray Wallace] and Coops [Jake Cooper] have got one goal between them, which they’ll be disappointed with. They are things we can improve on next season – but we’ve still got our eyes on this season as well and what we can still achieve, because stranger things have happened.
“It’s easy to say we want to add to the squad but then you look at our squad and our centre-halves, right-back, goalie and centre-midfield area – we’re as strong as anyone else in the division.
“That’s why we don’t concede many goals and if we can just turn some of those 17 draws into 1-0 wins here or there then we’d be even closer to the top six.”
Wallace and right-back Mahlon Romeo have turned into a productive outlet for the Lions.
“As soon as I played my first game with him I knew we’d have a great understanding,” said Wallace. “I’m close friends with Mahlon. I rely on him and he relies on me.
“It’s sometimes worked against us as teams overload to try and stop us when we play well.
“When Mahlon is mentally up for it then there is no-one better in that position, especially the wing-back role. His quality, pace and power are big things for us.
“As the team plays better football it means people are realising how many good players we’ve got. Mahlon is certainly one of them. I’m glad I don’t have to play against him.”
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