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Millwall manager expecting centre-back headache for Barnsley clash

BY TOBY PORTER

Millwall manager Gary Rowett expects to have a centre-back problem for the game at Barnsley tomorrow.

Captain Alex Pearce has a hamstring issue and did not appear on the teamsheet in last weekend’s 3-2 defeat by Derby.

And Shaun Hutchinson (above) is a serious doubt after taking a boot to his knee in that game.

Pearce’s injury prevented him from training this week. If he is not available, that leaves Jake Cooper as the only recognised regular central defender.

“Until Pearce trains it will be hard to assess if it is all right,” said Rowett. “Unless he makes a miraculous recovery, he will not be available.

“Hutch took a horrendous whack on the knee and is a serious doubt.

“That leaves just Coops. Murray Wallace can play there so we have some options. But it is not an ideal scenario to go into such a big game.”

Rowett also fears Aiden O’Brien (quad) will miss most of the remaining games. He signed a new deal this week to keep him in the squad until the end of July.

“Unless things change, I am not counting down the days before his return,” said the Lions boss. “We will just have to see how he gets on. But it does not look overly promising.

“Many clubs have players out of contract so the challenge was extending their deals after the season was extended.

“He wanted to do that. As for what happens with him for next season, we will just have to see where we are. There is no definitive decision yet but once there is, Aiden will be the first to know.”

Midfielder Ben Thompson could make a swift and unexpected comeback soon, after a quad injury struck in the days leading up to restart.

The 24-year-old academy graduate has shown his commitment – but his manager is wary his enthusiasm might be getting the better of him.

“He has recovered very quickly,” said Rowett. “He has not had a reaction so far – but that may be his sheer desperation to be involved.

“That is not always a good thing.

“I might have to pull on the reins.

“I would rather have players want to come back early, though, than those who don’t want to come back at all.”

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