Millwall ‘blessed’ with loan signings of Tottenham, Arsenal and Leeds United defenders

Billy Mitchell says Millwall have been “blessed” in terms of the quality of their centre-back loans in recent campaigns.

Japhet Tanganga, who made the temporary move to The Den from Tottenham in the January transfer window, headed a late winner for the Lions in their 1-0 victory over Birmingham City on Saturday.

The defender has been an ever-present since Neil Harris was appointed head coach last month.

Mitchell said: “Yeah (he has stood out in recent matches). I really noticed it at Southampton – a game we didn’t have a lot of the ball. He was completely and utterly dominant with his tackles. He has got great leadership qualities from behind – you can always hear him.

“He is very trustworthy defending space behind him and he’s great stepping in. He is a calm influence on the ball. He’s a pleasure to play with.

“It’s funny, I was only just thinking in the changing room after the game that we’ve been blessed with some quite good loanee centre-halves over the last few years – Danny Ballard, Charlie Cresswell and now Japh. He’s definitely living up to the expectation.”

Millwall have taken 10 points from a possible 12 under Harris.

“The last four games have been really successful, since Neil has come in,” said Mitchell. “It could’ve been even better, we weren’t that far away from having another win against Blackburn the other night.

“It couldn’t have gone much better so far. The two games at The Den have been wins against decent sides, so really pleased.”

Mitchell has also benefitted from the return of Harris as he has been the chosen midfield pairing alongside Casper De Norre.

It has seen summer signing Casper De Norre benched.

“I’m happy,” said Mitchell, when asked how it has felt being back in the side. “It has personally been a bit of a frustrating season. I don’t think I’ve quite got to the levels that I wanted to – being in and out, a lot of chopping and changing of managers. It’s been hard to find some rhythms and flow.

“With Neil coming in I have started the last four games and overall I’ve been pretty pleased. I still feel there is a little bit more to come with the ball but in terms of the basics and the fundamentals – fitness-wise and out of possession, doing the dog work – I feel really comfortable. Right now that is what we’ve needed to put results on the board and put a little space between us and the bottom three.”

Harris’ return has also seen the intensity of the support go up a number of notches.

The home fans were vocal again at the weekend – especially with their backing in the second half, when Birmingham had a spell of heavy pressure.

“Recently home and away they have shown what great fans they really can be,” said Mitchell. “They are vital for us, especially the situation we’ve been in the past couple of months.

“The Den is not necessarily the easiest place to play when things are not going well – that is nothing against them. Sometimes they can get frustrated, just like we can. They really have dug in and shown their support recently – it’s made a massive, massive difference.”

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