GARY Rowett has challenged Mason Bennett to make it “impossible” for Millwall not to sign him on a permanent deal from Derby County.
Bennett, 23, is on loan from the Rams for the rest of the season and the Lions have the option to sign him in the summer.
Former England youth international Bennett pleaded guilty to drink-driving last October after a crash involving team-mate Tom Lawrence that left Derby captain Richard Keogh with career-threatening injuries.
Rowett was asked by NewsAtDen this week if he was concerned with the potential reaction of fans to Bennett’s signing.
“It’s always a concern, you don’t want to create any negativity with your own fans, certainly, by them feeling that from a morality point of view it’s not the right thing to do,” Rowett said.
“I try to balance the argument all the time. He’s a young lad, he made a big mistake along with other players. We know as role models in football you can’t do that, let alone any kid that does it. If my own lad did it I’d be berating him and not too happy.
“He’s been punished for it and everybody deserves a chance to redeem themselves and a chance to rehabilitate.
“Effectively we’ve signed him because we feel he’s a player that could offer something to us. From a personality point of view he’s fit into the group really well.
“From a playing of view, if I can get him to the Mason Bennett that I know, then I think he can really offer us something strong not just on loan but potentially permanently down the line.
“But, we’ve got four months to find out which one it’s going to be. It’s on him, really, to go and perform and like he said in his own words, make it almost impossible for Millwall to not want to sign him.”
*Read an EXCLUSIVE interview with Mason Bennett in Thursday’s Southwark News print edition,the first time he has spoken publicly about the drink-driving incident last September and the fallout from it.
Image: Millwall FC