Millwall boss explains “really tough” call not to select Leeds loanee Cresswell and Malone in his matchday 18

Millwall manager Gary Rowett has talked about the “really tough” call to leave Charlie Cresswell and Scott Malone out of his matchday 18 squad for Saturday’s 2-0 win over Middlesbrough.

The Lions had a strong bench for the Championship match.

And Rowett admitted the versatility of George Evans, Callum Styles and George Honeyman helped strengthen their claim to be part of his squad.

Cresswell is on a season-long loan from Leeds United.

Rowett has moved to a 4-2-3-1 formation which has seen Shaun Hutchinson partner Jake Cooper in the middle of the defence with Murray Wallace at left-back.

Rowett told the South London Press: “It’s really tough. If you look at before the Rotherham game, young Cressy has been excellent for us. He’s stepped up to Championship football really, really well.

“Scottie, a couple of games prior to that, started at left wing-back and was really good.

“The challenge I had was that we weren’t winning games away from home. I spoke to the players about and said: ‘Look, we’re going to change to a 4-2-3-1 and I’m almost going to start from scratch and pick the best team I think for that. Then, basically, you’re going to have to fight to hold your shirt’.

“The ones that are out of the team just have to be patient and keep working hard in training to make sure when an opportunity comes they can come in and keep the shirt.

“The bench is tough to pick when we have got all those players and so much flexibility. Someone like Shacks can play in two or three different positions, Honeyman can play in two or three positions, Callum Styles can play in two or three positions. Benno and Benik Afobe, when you are playing a front four, you almost have to have those two on the bench.

“It really came down to Evo’s flexibility. Do we put Cressy, who can play centre-back, on the bench? Do we put Scottie, who can play left wing-back or attacking left-back, on the bench? Or do we put Evo, who can cover two or three positions. That was really the decision and it was a horrible decision to have to make.

“I don’t want to leave young Charlie or Scottie out of the squad but unfortunately two players have to be out of the squad.

“Evo has had it this season, where he’s been out of the squad. Mason had it. Hutchy, our captain, had it. It’s going to happen to everyone. Everyone is going to have to take their turn. When you are one of those players you’ve got to try not to get too disheartened – because it can change very quickly.

“Look at Hutchy. He was out of the squad, up at Blackburn, and comes back in. You can go from out of the squad to back into the starting line-up. I don’t think it is necessarily in order – that you’re out the squad, then on the bench and then in the team. It doesn’t work like that.

“Those decisions are not easy or nice to make.”

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