Millwall facing striker dilemma ahead of Birmingham City clash

BY RICHARD CAWLEY
richard@slpmedia.co.uk

Gary Rowett has told Millwall fans that they have not seen anywhere near a peak Mason Bennett – as he weighs up whether to start the attacker tomorrow night against Birmingham City.

The 23-year-old made his debut for the Lions as a second-half substitute in Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Wigan Athletic.

Bennett signed on loan from Derby County at the end of the January window and was one of the few plusses to come out of the weekend reverse.

“We needed individual skill and most came from Mase late in the game,” said Rowett, who has worked before with the former England U19 international while at the Pride Park helm. “It’s pleasing because that is what we brought him in for – to go past people in tight games.

“He’s got pace and power. He was a little rusty with one or two finishes – but he still had three shots.

“He can be pleased with his start. If we can keep Mason fit then I can assure the fans there is a lot more to come from him.

“He is a player with huge potential and I still don’t think that has been released by anyone yet.”

Bennett’s campaign has been injury-hit and his outing at the DW Stadium was only his eighth – and first since November 23.

He has played just 204 minutes of Championship football in the 2019-20 season.

“If we did start him on Wednesday then he is definitely not going to get   through the 90 minutes,” said Rowett.

“If he starts there is a question how long he will get through, or do you bring him on to make an impact? That’s the decision.

“We’ve got to be sensible and try to make the right decision for the rest of the season – not just the next match.”

Millwall have scored twice in their last five games.

“We are just a little bit short of creativity and goals,” said the Lions boss. “It is easy to get a team to be organised and difficult to break down – the hard bit is to add that extra bit of spark in the forward areas.

“At the moment we haven’t quite had that and it is up to one or two to step up and provide it.”

The Lions looked unlucky not to win a penalty at Wigan when Ryan Woods was brought down by Nathan Byrne.

But Rowett is undecided whether he would like to see VAR introduced at Championship level.

“Most managers like goal-line technology because it is either in or not,” he said. “There is a bit more of a discrepancy with VAR.

“We could have had more than just one penalty – there was a shout for a handball as well. The arm of the defender was clearly outstretched.

“But Saturday’s game probably didn’t hinge on those decisions, it hinged more on the performance.

“I’m unsure [on VAR]. I wouldn’t make a massive play for it in the Championship but if it gets more decisions right then it can only be a good thing.”


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