Millwall boss warming to idea of substitute increase – as EFL could soon agree to five changes in a match

Gary Rowett has revealed he is warming to the idea of increasing the amount of substitutes that can be made – with the EFL potentially voting a change to the numbers through before this weekend’s round of matches.

Clubs were allowed to made five substitutions when the English domestic game resumed last season due to the Covid-19 pandemic throwing up a challenging finale to the campaign.

Millwall manager Rowett had told our paper in July that he did not want to see the increased numbers remain because it had been used to “slow it down and kill the game”.

But the Lions are about to head into another demanding run of Championship matches which has seen the Den boss have a bit of a rethink.

“I’m mixed about it, if I’m honest,” Rowett told the South London Press. “But I’m starting to come around to the thought that it is better to have five subs and 20 players involved – nine on the bench – to have more options than less in a period of games.

“I wasn’t a massive fan of the way it broke the game up – but that was as much due to the water break.

“I think in the next bit of the season you’ll be grateful for five. We’ve got nine games where it is weekend-midweek-weekend-midweek. It’s pretty extreme.

“In most walks of life you’d be expected to crack on, but at elite football it is quite hard to ask people to virtually run a half-marathon every three days – and at an intense level, not just a low level. You’ve got the running, checking, turning and tackling – doing the million things that go into a game.”

Rowett says it is Millwall’s offensive players who face the most exacting workload.

He added: “Usually if we play 5-2-3 then our front three should be the highest and most intense runners. Closely followed, as you’d expect, by our wing-backs and usually at least one of the midfielders.

“Jed [Wallace], Scottie [Scott Malone], Muzza [Murray Wallace], Lenny [Ryan Leonard] – they are our highest in terms of distance for most games although it depends how the game goes and who you are playing.

“It is why I try to rotate the forwards and maybe one midfielder every now and then and a wing-back. It’s quite a self-explanatory way of doing it – the ones with the most running probably need the most rest.”



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