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Millwall manager makes admission over Championship restart – and labels Swansea match almost a must-win

BY ALEX GRACE

Gary Rowett says that his Millwall side have struggled to regain momentum after the Championship break.

The Lions had won 3-0 at Nottingham Forest before the coronavirus pandemic shut down football – and sport in general – for a prolonged spell.

The South London side lost 3-2 at home to Derby County in their first fixture back and followed up with a 0-0 draw at Barnsley on Saturday.

Millwall have dropped to 11th in the table and are five points behind sixth-placed Cardiff City, bossed by former Lions chief Neil Harris.

“We’re still in the race, still in the mix,” said Rowett. “We found the break – while I have to be as positive as I can be and make it sound like it’s not a massive issue for us – it’s been tough.

“We finished with a 3-0 win over Forest and we’ve struggled to get that back as quickly as we’d have liked.

“It’s a nine-game season and you can’t afford to not get momentum. We need to win Tuesday [at home to Swansea City]. If we don’t it’s going to be very difficult for us to get to where we want to be.”

Rowett felt Millwall needed the right system at Oakwell after losing against Derby on first game of the return last weekend.

“After watching back the first game I felt we lacked energy to stop Derby getting into the areas that we needed to, It’s incredibly hard on Smudge [Matt Smith] today because he’s in really good form and he’s our leading goalscorer.

“I just felt the system had to be right for us to have a chance of winning the game, and we should have won the game. More quality in the final third, quality we know we’ve got, and we should win the game. That was the disappointment. Good control, very few chances conceded against us, Barnsley didn’t really look to have very much threat at all.

“When we passed it well we got into really good areas but we just didn’t quite play with that quality we need. Maybe that’s the next little step for us, we need more quality to win those types of games.”

PHOTOS BY BRIAN TONKS

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