James Meredith reckons that any club relegated from the Premier League should be in contention to bounce straight back as Millwall get ready for this weekend’s trip to crisis-hit Sunderland.
The Black Cats lost their top-flight status last season and are rock bottom of the Championship standings after a 13-match winless streak.
Sunderland are yet to win at the Stadium of Light in the current campaign and Simon Grayson was sacked after just 18 games in managerial charge at the end of October.
Fifth-placed Middlesbrough are the only one of the clubs that made the drop to be in a position to challenge for promotion with Hull City in a lowly 20th place.
When asked about the struggles relegated sides face, Meredith replied: “I don’t know how. The clubs that were in the Premier League should all be up near the top with the players they have got and what they pay.
“There must be real issues at a club if they are not able to keep themselves up there.
“I’m really looking forward to going to the Stadium of Light. It’s a bit annoying it is a long journey but it is going to be a great day and a great opportunity to pick up three points.”
Millwall have a number of their main men missing. Jed Wallace serves the first of a three-game ban after his sending off against Burton Albion was upheld. Byron Webster and Shaun Williams are also sidelined with knee injuries.
“I’d say we have got a little bit of a thinner squad compared to most Championship clubs. If it is key players that makes it a little more difficult.
“Webbo and Willo are a huge part of what we do but I’m optimistic for the future and the run of games that we’ve got in December. I think we play better against the better teams. We’ve got some exciting games coming to climb our way back up the table.”
Millwall have had four red cards this season and have failed with appeals on Wallace and Lee Gregory. They were unable to attempt to overturn Jake Cooper and Aiden O’brien’s dismissals, although manager Neil Harris had no arguments with those referee calls.
“I didn’t think Jed’s was a red card,” said right-back Meredith. “It was a yellow. I was shocked. I think a lot of people were surprised.
“We’ve had a few important decisions not really go our way this season. I don’t know if there is a bit of a stigma with Millwall.
“Jed was really disappointed. I felt for him. He is someone who gives his all and is a really good player.
“We are a physical side and go in hard. But I’d say all the tackles given as reds shouldn’t have been reds. The refs have got it wrong a few times.”
Millwall have had a fortnight to stew on the 1-0 defeat to Burton at The Den.
“Usually you want to get straight back out there and play again,” said Meredith. “It’s a bit of a shame. We were all really disappointed. We dominated the game and could have just been a bit more clinical.
“I had a shot – or air-swing. We have got to be better at converting chances. It is definitely not just the strikers. That applies to the midfielders, myself and Conor McLaughlin – he is a good finisher.
“We’ve got to show more quality in the final third and be more ruthless.
“Bad results definitely eat at you for a good few days afterwards. You reflect on the game and feel like you have let people down, let the fans down – even if you’ve played well yourself.
“Even when the team has played well and you’ve lost it still feels terrible. You look at the league position which reflects the team and it is not nice.
“It’s better when you don’t play great and the team wins. We want to be as successful and high in the table as we can.”
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