Millwall manager explains bench considerations with defender suspended for Bournemouth visit

MILLWALL boss Gary Rowett has explained why he won’t necessarily choose a like-for-like replacement on the bench with Jake Cooper suspended against AFC Bournemouth on Wednesday night.

Cooper is serving a one-game ban after picking up five bookings this season and Murray Wallace is set to replace him in the team.

Alex Pearce is the only other out-and-out centre-back in the squad, but Ryan Leonard and George Evans can also play in central defence.

Pearce and Danny McNamara weren’t in the match-day 18 for the 1-1 draw against Middlesbrough last Saturday.

Wallace was the only natural defender on a bench that included three front players.

One option for Rowett could be to bring Ben Thompson back into the fold as he can play off the front.

Rowett was asked about those decisions ahead of the game against the Cherries.

Skipper Alex Pearce hasn’t played in the league this season

“It depends, sometimes at home we try to go as attacking as we can with the bench,” Rowett told NewsAtDen. “We’ve got quite a bit of flexibility within the squad. We’ve got the likes of Lenny who can play in there, Evo can play in there.

“It’s why Danny’s missed out a couple of times recently because I felt as though we can go as attacking as we can at the top end of the pitch in terms of options.

“And it sometimes depends on who is carrying knocks. If there are one or two players carrying knocks then that might affect who goes on the bench. For example, if Lenny is carrying a bit of a knock but we think he’ll be fit then it would make sense to put Danny on the bench.

Danny McNamara will be hoping to return

“There are different ways of looking at it. We’re not set with any pattern that if a certain player misses out then that player goes on the bench. We try to look at what we need for whichever game we’re playing.

“Murray was unfortunate not to start in the last game. I felt the players that have played in there had done well enough and I wanted to bring Hutchy back in, which was why Murray missed out.

“But he’s been excellent all season. There’s a good percentage chance he’ll go in instead of Coops.”

Rowett is set to be without one attacking option after Connor Mahoney went off at half-time in Millwall under-23s’ 4-4 Professional Development League draw at Ipswich Town on Monday.

Rowett said: “He’s having a scan, he felt his hamstring. I don’t think Connor felt it was too serious. We’ll see when we get the results.”

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly