Millwall boss Gary Rowett gives his verdict on January transfer window business

Gary Rowett believes that Millwall have managed to significantly boost their attacking options despite not landing an out-and-out forward in the January transfer window.

The Lions brought in Duncan Watmore on a permanent deal from Middlesbrough and also re-signed Oliver Burke on loan from Werder Bremen.

Millwall had shown interest in QPR targetman Lyndon Dykes and agreed terms for Hibernian’s Kevin Nesbit to head to SE16, only for the deal to fall through last week. Neither player moved before Tuesday’s deadline.

“We tried [to sign a striker] – because we’re not stupid,” Lions boss Rowett told the South London Press.

“We know it is something we needed, with Benik [Afobe] leaving. We would have done that, alongside the two players we brought in as well. But we weren’t able to do that. That’s probably happened for the last four windows. I remember us trying to sign Kieffer Moore and we just couldn’t quite get him in because other teams were just pipping us on the line.

“You are always faced with some of those challenges. That’s what that window is and what the Championship is. Most teams are trying to find something a little bit different, like us.

“Burkey has played as a centre-forward for Celtic and he’s played as a centre-forward in Germany. He has played on both wings.

“Some of my comments about Vogey [Andreas Voglsammer] have been misinterpreted. He has played as a striker and it’s something we have considered all the way through.

“Duncan can play there in a two. Vogey has probably played there more in a two than he has as a one. We’ve got lots of different options that can play in different ways – it’s what you have to do if you can’t find a ready-made striker who has scored 15 to 20 goals in the Championship.

“We tried to do that with Benik. He scored 14 and couldn’t quite create that again this year. People thought he wouldn’t do that (score 13 goals) and he did.

“It’s always a tough window – you saw a couple of deals fall down late on for other clubs. It just seems so irrational, at times. I don’t think it changes.

“I was really pleased to get our deals done before the last-minute rush.”

Watmore, 28, only had six months on his Boro deal and had struggled for game time since Michael Carrick replaced Chris Wilder as manager.

Middlesbrough’s Duncan Watmore celebrates after scoring their side’s second goal during the Sky Bet Championship match at the DW Stadium, Wigan. Picture date: Wednesday October 19, 2022.

Burke spent the second half of last season on loan with Millwall from Sheffield United. The 25-year-old looked set to sign for the Lions in the summer before late Bundesliga interest.

“Both are really good players and I’m really pleased to get them in,” said Rowett. “You have to be flexible and react to the opportunities available in the window, sometimes the ones there late on are not the same as the ones at the start.

“We wanted to bring Burkey in last summer. We’ve managed to do that four months later. Duncan can play anywhere across the front and has scored goals. Both either know players at the club, or know the club. They are very, very good characters who fit straight in.

“I first saw Duncan play against one of my teams, Burton, in the FA Cup. He was playing for Altrincham at 18 and you could see he was going to be a top, top player.

“He’s had some ups and downs in his career, for different reasons, and come through them. I think he could have a new lease of life with us. Hopefully we can get a little bit more out of him.

“Sometimes fans think you can just go and sign two players that solve all your problems but it doesn’t work like that, if it did then we’d be doing that. We have to find players who fit our model and process.

“At the end of the season we have to judge if all of that has worked. And other people, more importantly, judge it.”

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