Millwall boss reacts to Zak Lovelace speculation – Rangers, Leicester and Brighton linked

Millwall manager Gary Rowett has reiterated his desire to keep hold of Zak Lovelace after the 15-year-old striker was linked with Rangers, Leicester City and Brighton.

The Streatham schoolboy, who turns 16 later this month, became the club’s second youngest debutant when he came on in the final minutes of the 1-0 win at Coventry at the end of December.

Lovelace, who also had spells in the academy ranks of Crystal Palace and Brighton, is yet to set a professional contract.

Now he has been linked with a switch away from SE16.

Asked about the speculation, Rowett told the South London Press: “For those type of players there is a structure in place with the likes of Premier League teams or other teams trying to sign those players. Until they have signed professional contracts you are always open to them coming in and pinching them, like they have with some of the other youngsters that have been well-documented over the years.

“The hope for us is always the same. We’ve got a plan for Zak to take steps to get into our first team. You’ve seen some of that plan developing perhaps a little bit quicker than we all anticipated but that was down, partly, to opportunity and his performances in training.

“John [Berylson, owner] has always made it clear that he wants to keep our best young players and see them in a Millwall shirt. The problem with that is on that journey there are an awful lot of things that can change that situation. We’re aware of that.

“Zak is a really good lad. He has come in with a humility and hunger to want to do well – that exuberance of youth. I’d love to see how that develops over the next two or three years because he could be, from what I’ve seen, a top player.

“We’ll see because a lot of that is potentially out of our hands. We’ll put a plan together and try to work to that plan. The best for any young player is to try and get into a first team and stay in a first team.”

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