BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Millwall face Middlesbrough on the opening day of the 2018-19 campaign – and Neil Harris reckons they are definite automatic promotion material.
The Lions are at home to the Teesside outfit on August 4.
Tony Pulis’ side reached the Championship play-offs last season but lost to Aston Villa in their two-legged semi-final.
Millwall manager Harris said: “They don’t get much tougher than that.
“Middlesbrough are one of the favourites to get promotion this year with the squad they have and I fully expect them to be right up there – anyone who finishes above them will be promoted.
“It is a great one to start with and get back into the swing of things but it’s extremely tough. It’s a bit of a welcome back to the start of the season.”
The Lions were tough nuts to crack at The Den and they follow up with Derby County, Swansea and Leeds in SE16 by mid-September.
Harris said: “They look huge games on paper but how will they fare? Over the course of the season, how big are games in respect of league position? We don’t know.
“Going through the fixtures last season then you’d have said Sunderland at home was a massive game and they could be looking to get promotion. But they were bottom of the league for 30 weeks of the season.
“I’m very conscious myself that I look short term and focus just on the games coming up.
“It would be nice to play someone a little more local than Middlesbrough – it is a bit more of a trek to watch them, which is a blow.
“I’ll leave it to the players and fans to get excited about certain fixtures over the course of the season and look further in advance. My focus is on Middlesbrough, Derby and Sheffield Wednesday.”
Harris will not be changing the initial goal for the Lions despite the fact they finished just three points behind the total which secured a play-off spot.
“For everyone connected to the football club, what we achieved last season was miraculous,” he said. “The first aim is to get to 50 points and then try and build from there.
“We’ll try and emulate as close as possible what we did last year or go a step further. We know how difficult that is.”
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