BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Kenneth Zohore is set to build up his match minutes in today’s FA Cup tie at Boreham Wood – with Millwall manager Gary Rowett admitting the West Brom striker’s future is still up in the air.
The Danish striker only signed a loan deal with the Lions until January 16.
Zohore missed 12 Championship matches with a calf injury – only returning as a 68th-minute substitute in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Coventry City. The 26-year-old will be available for Tuesday’s trip to AFC Bournemouth and Forest away next weekend before his situation comes into sharp focus.
West Brom are under new management – Sam Allardyce replacing Slaven Bilic – and have lost former Charlton striker Karlan Grant for up to six weeks with a cracked bone in his foot.
There have been no talks between the two clubs over Zohore, who has played just 130 minutes in a Lions shirt but showcased his effectiveness with a goal in the 2-0 victory at Preston in late October.
“I don’t think it’s even worth having that discussion until we’re satisfied he can be fit and stay fit,” said Rowett. “We’re paying a decent amount of money for a player we didn’t have available. We knew he had some [injury] issues coming here. We’re disappointed he hasn’t been available.
“What we have to do, first and foremost, is make sure we’ve got a player who has a chance of being available. That’s obvious.
“We’ve got three more games for him to be able to play in. At the end of that we look and see what is possible. It might be out of our hands. All we can do is react to what we think is right for our football club.
“I’d love to keep him because I think he can make a massive, massive difference. But, at the same time, we need players who are going to be fit for the rest of the season – it has been harmful to us in the first half of this season not having him available.
“What’s important is we get as many games out of Ken in the period of time that we’ve got him, so that we can make a decision on whether we want to push to retain him – which would be our intention at the moment. But due to his injuries that has to be right for all parties.
“For all we know West Brom might recall him. They’ve got a new manager and they might want to look at all of their players. We have to be mindful of that as well.
“He couldn’t start at the weekend because he has missed a lot of football. His injury situation meant we had to be a little mindful of his minutes. We probably still need to do that. It might be that he can only build up to playing 45 minutes to start with and see where he’s at with that.”
Millwall’s tie at Meadow Park is a potential banana skin as they face National League opposition off the back of a really poor performance against the Sky Blues.
Only the saves of keeper Bartosz Bialkowski prevented it being a heavier reverse and the SE16 outfit have won one of their 13 matches.
Youngsters like right-back Danny McNamara – recalled from his loan at St Johnstone – and winger Tyler Burey will be hoping to be involved.
But any kind of slip up in Hertfordshire would be the first time that the Lions have lost to non-league opposition since 1996 – when Clive Walker’s goal earned Woking a 1-0 win.
“It’s going to be a shame to go to Boreham Wood with no fans there, because it takes away a little bit of that edge to the game,” said Rowett.
“I’m sure Boreham Wood will still see it the same way that they would do, but without non-league fans and the passion that the FA Cup brings, the games this weekend will look very different to what they normally would. We played Crawley and Cheltenham early on this season, we know what a team like that is going to do. They will try and make it very difficult for us.
“It’s up to us to go and play well and show the right mentality.
“I always say that in these games – the mentality is huge. If the mentality is not right then a lower league side has an opportunity to beat you.
“If your mentality is right then you make it very, very difficult for any team to beat you in these type of games. That’s what it is going to come down to, in my opinion.”
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