BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Millwall manager Gary Rowett has admitted he weighed up moves for Scott Malone at more than one of his previous clubs.
The 28-year-old left-back signed on a season-long at the end of last week. It will be his second spell with the Lions – he made 71 appearances before being sold to Cardiff in January 2015.
“He’s a player I’ve watched intently over the years and seen him develop into a good attacking left-back,” said Rowett. “We had a real good think about him when we were at Stoke and at Derby, before he went there.
“Like everybody you have some clubs where you settle at and have really good seasons and sometimes you find yourself in and out of the team. He’s been pretty consistent at the top end of the Championship and in the Premier League for Huddersfield.
“I worked with him at Burton and at times we used him as a left winger in a counter-attacking side. He would break forward, eat up space and make good decisions in the final third.
“I’d say with experience he has become more composed.
“When I was looking in this market I was looking for someone who can help make the team different moving forward, to give us a different option.
“I’ve always seen Scott as a really attacking full-back. Maybe occasionally at times you might not want someone who goes forward so much but in the wing-back position you are free to just keep going. You want someone prepared to just keep running forward and get in those attacking positions, like he did at Fulham and other clubs where he scored goals.
“He’s got the same energy at 28 as what he did at 19 or 20.”
Millwall made it a double Rams raid as they also completed a permanent transfer of Mason Bennett.
The 24-year-old spent the second half of last season on loan with the SE16 outfit. Niggling injuries saw the Lions let a pre-agreed fee option expire as they renegotiated more attractive terms.
Rowett described the deal as “a gamble” last week – but has made clear that only relates to keeping the attacker fit.
“It is a lesser gamble because he didn’t come at a cost of a £500,000 fee,” said the Lions chief. “We’ve mitigated that gamble a little bit.
“Mason is not a gamble in himself – I don’t mean that in terms of playing. His playing quality is absolutely no risk at all – it’s just the injury side that is a gamble.
“But he has played all three games so far with no issues.”
Bennett made his debut for Derby at the age of 15 but since than has gone on to make 81 Championship appearances. In total he has 138 senior games under his belt.
Asked if Millwall can do anything different to keep him available, Rowett replied: “We’ve got to try but of course every club has pretty robust medical and sports science departments. It’s not like teams haven’t tried that.
“There are one or two things we have to think about. If we try to play him for 90 minutes every game and then we go and play midweek and again the next weekend we are asking for trouble.
“We have to use him in moments of games where we feel he can impact, until he builds up that resistance. It only comes with time.
“Not last season but the one before he made 36 appearances – so he has done it.
“He has been very unlucky when he came in with us.
“Mase was so desperate to play and, if I’m honest, there was one game I almost pushed him back out there because I felt if I didn’t then the chance of signing him and taking up the option would be lessened.
“He’d just scored two goals and he got injured in that match [at QPR].
“Mase is the sort of lad who wants to play all the time and maybe we just need to put the reins on that a little bit.”
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