Millwall boss Gary Rowett hailed his big defender Jake Cooper this week – and told cash-rich clubs: “I am not interested if other clubs are looking at him.”
The 26-year-old centre-back hit his 200-game mark in Monday’s 2-1 win over Stoke.
The prized left-footer also showed his technical side at the attacking end of the pitch – he found space for an enticing cross which was prodded home by Murray Wallace. Cooper’s 6ft 4in tall frame also makes him a massive threat in the air at set pieces.
The fact Millwall have lost just 10 games – the fourth-lowest total in the Championship proves how much the former Reading titan has dominated Championship forward lines. One of the favourites for Player of the Season was the subject of a rejected bid by Rangers in 2018.
Manager Rowett said: “The way Jake reacted to the second phase of the corner, with a nice turn and dink into the box, set up our first goal at Stoke.
“For a big man, he is surprisingly adept. We have encouraged our centre-backs to try and play a bit and step into attacks.
“We use a back five and try to make it unpredictable by getting bodies forward in an unconventional way.
“Reaching 200 games is a fabulous achievement for Jake. We have seen him mature as a player in recent seasons.
“He has a lot more to his game than people realise. And at his age, he has huge potential.
“We have had plenty of our players being watched by other clubs because we have been in the top 10 much of the season.
“But in truth I have no interest in whether other clubs want our players.
“Until we get a whopping great bid, that is the only time I pay any attention.
“Our chairman John Berylson has been brilliant. No one has ever got Millwall players on the cheap.
“This has not been a selling club and that is brilliant for any manager.
“That gives us a lot of stability.” Rowett also praised midfielder-turned striker Jed Wallace, who set up Mason Bennett’s winner in the Stoke win.
“He’s been terrific for us – the go-to player when we want to open games up,” said Rowett.
“He comes up with a bit of brilliance. He is intelligent on the pitch and off it too.
“Mason Bennett has been excellent too – I am really pleased for him because he is a great lad and works hard as well as being very unselfish.
“He complements Jed because he is more of a battering ram which Jed can play off. I have always said he might be better in a more central role. For his age, he is very promising.
“It is hard to know what other clubs are doing about our players.
“But if I do my job properly and every player does, it is a compliment to have people watching us.”
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