Millwall boss on squad competitiveness after two recent examples highlight what he wants

GARY Rowett is pleased with how competitive his squad is as two players in particular have taken their chances recently.

Jake Cooper was left out of the first team for a league game for the first time under Rowett against Nottingham Forest and was on the bench for the next fixture against Bristol City.

Cooper returned after Scott Malone picked up an injury and has been excellent, scoring an injury-time winner at Sheffield United.

Murray Wallace was concussed against Luton and now faces a battle to get back into the side with Malone fit again.

Tom Bradshaw had already forced his way back into the team and then scored twice in the 2-1 win against Stoke City when Benik Afobe was unavailable against his parent club.

Afobe returns this weekend but Bradshaw will be favourite to start at Huddersfield.

“That’s what it’s all about,” Rowett said. “What Murray did [saying he wasn’t ready to play] is what we want our players to do, which is if you’re not quite right then you’ve got to do the right thing for the team. Even if that puts you out of the team.

“Muzza’s the sort of player who will play with anything, he’s been as good as anyone early [in the season] and can play in a multitude of positions.

“Coops went out of the team and responded really, really well with a bit of a point to prove where you’re coming in with that little bit of extra drive.

“That’s what we want, we need all the players to be playing with that all of the time.

Tom Bradshaw celebrates

“Every now and then someone losing their place and having to try and get it back adds to that competitive nature of the squad.

“With so many games there are so many opportunities for players to play.

“We’ve seen it recently with the likes of Matt [Smith] coming into the team, we got really good results. Then there were one or two games that I felt might not suit Matt but he comes off the bench and changes a game for us, changes the whole perspective.

“We’ve got those options this year and we’ve got players with good character to recognise when they’re on the pitch they’ve got to do their jobs.

“I’m really pleased with the competition.”

Image: Millwall FC

John Kelly