BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Gary Rowett is looking to add at least three signings to his Millwall squad in the next transfer window.
The Lions fell just short in their Championship play-off chase and get the chance to strengthen their squad from July 27, when business can officially start being conducted.
Millwall look to be in a healthy position with prize assets such as Jed Wallace, Jake Cooper and Shaun Hutchinson all on long-term contracts.
There could be movement out of the squad with Jiri Skalak struggling to impress since arriving from Brighton in August 2018. The winger has made just four Championship appearances this season.
Our paper exclusively broke the news earlier this week that Aiden O’Brien, 26, was being released.
Lions manager Rowett said: “Along with Aiden there could be two or three players who could potentially move on for pastures new to go and play football – revive their careers a little bit.
“We’d certainly like to bring in two or three players and then maybe one or two other areas if we can.
“We’ve got certain areas where we need to add more quality and add players that mean the players we’ve already got here realise we’re serious about next season and trying to progress.
“I’m always reluctant to put too many definitive figures on it because I know how it works. As soon as the transfer window opens the fans are frustrated we haven’t brought in four players in the first 48 hours.
“We’re been working very, very hard. We’ve got some good targets but who knows when we’ll be able to get some of those targets over the line? That’s where the transfer window is always quite unpredictable – none more so than this transfer window. There are going to be a lot of players available, a lot of clubs maybe cutting their cloth a little more in the Championship.
“It’s going to be a hard one to predict exactly how this window is going to go.”
Two players who are in Rowett’s thoughts for the 2020-21 campaign are Ryan Woods and Jayson Molumby, who are due to return to their parent clubs Stoke City and Brighton.
The Lions chief only made two additions in January – and both were players he had worked with before as he clinched temporary moves for Derby attacker Mason Bennett and deep-lying midfielder Woods.
“He [Woods] has been a really, really important player for us,” said Rowett. “I’ve said it previously how he gives us a little more control of the ball and better opportunities to build possession from deeper areas.
“Woodsy has fitted in with the group really well. He’s a player that I’d like to keep but he is Stoke’s player and we need to be respectful of that.
“Jayson has had a tremendous loan. He’s got huge potential. We’ve helped him and he’s helped himself. He’s starting to play with a bit more composure and control to go with his natural energy.
“I think the plan from Brighton’s end is that he goes back there and spends pre-season with them to see where he is at. He’s one we tried to push a little bit a few months ago but the general consensus from Brighton is that he would go back.
“Should Jayson be available I’m sure he’d be a player we’d be very interested in. But I’m sure a lot of other clubs would be too.”
Skalak’s Den deal runs until June 2021 and his inability to hold down a starting berth makes him the clear frontrunner in terms of exits.
Whether the market will be hot for the 28-year-old is another matter.
Rowett said: “If you get to the end of the season and someone has stayed fit and hardly started a game then I think the question has to be: ‘Most players are going to be in the same situation again – is it better to bring someone fresh in?’
“We always look at it from a club’s point of view or a manager’s point of view – but not sometimes from a player’s point of view. They need to play football. If they don’t really get the opportunity to do that for one season it is okay, but if it starts to become two seasons then that’s difficult.
“I’m sure you’ll see there are two or three players in there who might well come and see me over the next few days and say: ‘I can’t have that sort of season again, I need to go out and play’. I think that will be natural.
“That will happen with every single football club up and down the country.
“I won’t name names, because I’ve got no specific plans for players to leave. But naturally, I’m sure it will be something in the conversation over the next couple of weeks.”
The next Championship season is set to start on September 12.
The delayed finish to the current campaign due to the coronavirus pandemic means an ultra short period of R&R.
“We’ll probably give the players three weeks off and then we’ll come back for a pre-season which looks like it will be about four weeks and a couple of days,” said Rowett.
“Because the break is not quite as long I don’t think the pre-season needs to be quite as long.
“It’s important mentally to have a break. Although we’ve had a long period of lockdown, players were still working towards coming back and playing.
“They’ve had no break at all, that’s as much mental as physical.
“We’ll individualise the programmes. Some players might need three weeks complete rest and some might need a week off and then to go again to get stronger and fitter. Other players might need a combination of both. It’s making sure each individual gets what they need, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.
“We’ll probably need three, four or five friendlies. The fact that crowds could potentially be allowed back in October, according to the Prime Minister, it seems more sensible that any games don’t start until then.
“Until all of those things are worked out it means there is a bit of guesswork on your prep.
“We will try to get some pre-season friendlies as normal. We will ideally try and have a training camp somewhere but quite a few of these things are logistically hard at the moment without really knowing what you can and can’t do and what leagues are starting when and where.
“We’ve got a plan and we’ll try and stick to it as best we can – but I think there will be a lot of last-minute adjustments.”
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