BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Millwall duo Tim Cahill and James Meredith are going to the World Cup – and boss Neil Harris reckons that boosting international prospects is another lure to joining the South London club.
Striker Cahill, 38, is heading to his fourth finals with Australia with left-back Meredith, 30, also making their squad for Russia.
Meredith wanted to boost his chances of appearing on the Socceroos’ radar when he joined from Bradford City on a free transfer last summer.
Cahill – an icon for his country and a legendary figure at the Den – opted for a January return to his first club to boost his prospects of another World Cup.
George Saville and Shaun Williams have also won international recognition with Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland respectively due to their form for Millwall.
Cahill and Meredith would be the first Lions players to feature at a World Cup since Steven Reid in 2002.
Harris said: “I am really delighted for them. They are two fantastic characters and dedicated personalities.
“Both their families will be proud of them. They have got there due to their unbelievable talent at football but also by making sacrifices and possessing a desire to get better.
“Tim has got over 100 caps and 50 goals for his country – that speaks volumes.
“You need to look what what Timmy sacrificed in January to come over. Yes, it sounds great – that it is a love affair story coming back to Millwall. But he had to spend three months without his family and kids.
“He came back, knowing that he was not always necessarily always going to play but would train.
“Mezza’s path [from non-league football] is well-documented. He made a brave call last summer to come to London and turned down various other clubs up north to come and work for me. That was another sign of intent. His form was right up there as one of the best left-backs in the division.
“I can’t speak highly enough of the pair of them and how proud we are as a football club. Mezza is battle-hardened and consistent. There won’t have been many fans who came away from games saying he was the best player on the pitch but they will still have said: ‘He was good, wasn’t he? He did his job’.
“The crazy thing, and I know Mezza agrees, is that there is a lot more to come from him. He can be better. I’m looking forward to working with him in the future.”
Williams, 31, had to wait until last month to feature for his country.
It shows that doing well for Millwall at Championship level can open the door.
“It goes hand in hand,” said Harris. “I think players realise now it is something else we can offer.
“Okay, you won’t go to Millwall and get in the England squad – in saying that Glen Johnson, Harry Kane and Andros Townsend have all played here [on loan]. But we have a good structure where you can flourish as an individual as well as a collective.
“We ask the players every week to be the best they individually can, take care of your jobs and if you get your own recognition that is beneficial to the whole team.
“Shane Ferguson and Conor McLaughlin have continued to play for Northern Ireland. Steve Morison was with us when he got called up by Wales. George has emerged through.
“Shaun has had to wait until his 30s to get into the squad. He has played some brilliant football with Milton Keynes and Millwall in the Championship. We are a hard-working team but he has still been able to show he is one of the best technicians in the division.”
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