On the eve of the League One season, the largest missing piece of the Millwall jigsaw may have been found.
The acquisition of Steve Morison on a free transfer from Leeds United gives the Lions their much-sought after fourth striker and target man, completing Neil Harris’ set.
Morison arrives back at The Den from Elland Road with a point to prove. After a less than successful loan spell in the 2013/14 season, the former Stevenage hit-man will be looking to be amongst the goals in the Lions’ push for immediate promotion back to the Championship.
Anyone with half a brain – those with bizarre personal vendettas aside – will have seen that Lee Gregory was not the man to lead the line on his own under Ian Holloway last season. Gregory played his best football at the back end of the campaign in a two-man attack, scoring a hat-trick in the 3-3 draw with Derby County in April, whilst forming a good partnership with Aiden O’Brien in the process.
Millwall have always been a team to play two up front – if Morison and Gregory can click and if they can receive the service, the lack of goals that has crippled the Lions in recent years could be a thing of the past in the 2015/16 season.
With Morison incoming, the forward line now looks a lot healthier. But, how does the rest of the squad look, with mere hours to go until the big kick-off?
Personally, I am surprised that David Forde is still at the club. With a new era beginning and the likes of Alan Dunne departing, I expected the Irishman to be one of the first out of the door. However, Forde now has a chance to cement his place at the best ‘keeper in League One, keeping understudies Jordan Archer and Tom King at arms’ length in the process. Lets not mention last Saturday’s friendly against CD Tondela, however…
In the defence, the underwhelming Shaun Cummings’ right-back slot looks to be under threat with the re-emergence of Carlos Edwards from injury over the summer. After nearly a year out of action, the former Sunderland full-back is just as eager to get back playing as all fans are to see him playing – and you can bet that the Trinidad international will be pushing the former Reading man all the way.
Mark Beevers, Sid Nelson, Tony Craig and Byron Webster make up the centre-back options. With Beevers covering for the injured Joe Martin at left-back and Harris seemingly favouring his captain and the towering Webster as his first-choice partnership, it seems as though Nelson will be made to wait, despite impressing at the back end of the last campaign. However, a second left-back is a must, as, with new signing Martin injured already, any more lay-offs will see the back line become stretched.
The midfield looks well stocked and contains two players who could be the key to any success this season. Left out in the cold under the previous regime, Ed Upson will look to shine this season in a central midfield role, whilst winger, Fred Onyedinma, will excite fans and players alike with his raw talent and explosive pace.
Paris Cowan-Hall and Lee Martin will battle with ‘Fred’ for starting berths out wide, whilst a plethora of central midfielders will do battle week in, week out. The first choice pairing of Upson and Shaun Williams will have to produce game-by-game, or face being replaced by the likes of Jack Powell, Jimmy Abdou and youngster, Ben Thompson. Kris Twardek, impressive in pre-season, will also look to push his way into the match-day squad on his return from injury.
Along with Morison and Gregory, O’Brien, John Marquis, Alfie Pavey and Jamie Philpot will be contesting with one another for starts up front. With O’Brien currently sidelined through injury and Pavey and Philpot still learning their trade, it looks to be between Morison, Gregory and Marquis for the two starting berths against Shrewsbury on Saturday, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see changes made and the younger players given a chance in next Tuesday’s Capital One Cup First Round tie against Barnet at The Den.
So, with the beginning of the League One season on the horizon, what do the Lions lack? If you ask me, I’d say that we need a left-back, as well as one more winger. An injury to Lee Martin or Paris Cowan-Hall would mean relying solely on Fred Onyedinma, which at this stage in his career isn’t advisable.
Apart from that, Millwall look good to go for the season opener and beyond. This is a new squad with new prospects, starting out on a new beginning. Give them time to gel.
Come on you Lions!