Millwall boss explains why he won’t demand out-of-favour players feature for U23s

Gary Rowett has spelled out why he would never demand any of his senior players are selected for Millwall’s U23 team.

The likes of Ben Thompson and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson have both struggled for first-team appearances this season.

Midfielder Thompson has turned out for the Lions’ development side to ensure he keeps his fitness and match sharpness topped up.

Icelandic international striker Bodvarsson has played just 18 minutes of football in the current campaign – as a 72nd-minute substitute against Cambridge in the EFL Cup.

Rowett told the South London Press: “We had two or three players that had the opportunity to go and play football in the last window. But they signed a contract at the club and it has to be right for their careers, right for their families and how they see their future.

“I hope that players want to play football and want to put their careers back on track if they are not playing regularly. All clubs will have players in that situation. I’m sure if the opportunity arose in January they would rather be playing lots of football in the second half of the season than not much football. That’s any player in any squad.

“It is impossible to play everyone and keep everyone happy – that’s just football. It’s impossible to find the perfect solution for everyone. All you do is try to help people to play football and feel valued in what they do.

“We have got players we want to develop and see in the first team. They are not playing just to allow a few first-team players to play football, that’s not the right way to do it or the right environment for them.

“If anyone wants to play we’ll put it to Nuge [Kevin Nugent] and Robbo [Paul Robinson]: ‘These are the players – you don’t have to play any of them, but you can also play all of them’. Sometimes one or two senior players, if they are the right characters, can help the U23s. It helps them see what the next level in terms of professionalism, performance and commitment looks like.

“But at the same time they need to be playing with those players, rather than sitting on the bench watching. We’ve got some good young players that we need to develop and games are a huge part of that. It allows you to see how their training is going and putting it into matches.”

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