Millwall boss Harris explains policy on trialists after Southampton and Oxford men in U23 action last week at Charlton Athletic

BY RICHARD CAWLEY

Millwall manager Neil Harris will take the chance to run the rule over players who are set to be out of contract this summer in the club’s remaining U23 development games.

The Lions had a couple of triallists on show in last week’s match against Charlton Athletic at The Valley

Southampton striker Jonathan Afolabi and Oxford United midfielder Albert Hopkins both got game time in SE7.

Harris said: “We’re at that stage now, once you get to April, that players start finding out if their futures lie at clubs or they don’t lie at a club.

“It is about being proactive. It is the same with us, we are making decisions on schoolboys and young pros – you want them to know where their futures are.

“You want people to have an opportunity somewhere else [if they are going to be let go], to try and impress. That’s also happening at other clubs.

“If players have been told their futures don’t lie at the club they are at – they might have been ones we have noticed before or recommended to our scouts – then we might want to take a look. Sometimes it is a lot easier doing now than pre-season – you get an opportunity to look now and get a head-start on other teams.

“If players do well we can always invite them back in pre-season. It was a chance to see a couple of young lads who have been recommended. It is fine seeing players in training or matches behind closed doors, but sometimes you have got to see them in real, competitive games.

“If there is a chance to do this between now and the end of the season then we will do.”

Millwall have signed eight youngsters on pro contracts – the highest ever total in one season.

George Alexander – the son of former Lions frontman Gary – Reuben Duncan, Billy Mitchell, Sam Skeffington, Besart Topalloj, Joe Wright, Junior Tiensia and Rob Strachan have all signed contracts.

“It is down to them to keep developing and show their qualities as players,” said Harris. “It’s harder to earn your second contract.

“Earning the first one is down to sheer desire or natural ability. Earning the second one is down to development, and that comes from the player within.”

Harry Taylor and Lewis West have been released.

Harry Ransom, who will formally sign for Millwall in the summer transfer window, also played for the Lions in their South London derby against Charlton last week.

The Eastbourne Borough defender is still able to feature for his National League South club but can train and turn out for the Lions in non first-team fixtures.

“It was his first semi-competitive match for us,” said Harris. “We’ve seen a lot in training and he did well.

“He has played mens’ football for the last 18 months at a very good non-league standard – coming out of that and into U23 football is completely different. He has been playing real football and is battle-hardened – he’ll only get better with the group.”


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