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First team

Media View: Expert insight on Millwall

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

AFC Bournemouth will be hoping to sign off in style when they host Championship play-off chasers Millwall on Saturday (12.30pm kick-off).

Scott Parker’s team sealed promotion to the Premier League with a game to spare thanks to their memorable 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest on Tuesday.

Millwall arrive at Vitality Stadium bidding to secure a top-six finish and a place in the play-offs as they look to return to the top flight for the first time since 1989/90.

The Lions would appear to be in a three-way battle for sixth place along with Luton and Middlesbrough with Sheffield United probably just out of their reach.

Gary Rowett’s team are currently eighth and need three points to stand any chance of finishing above the Hatters and Boro.

Having finished eighth in two of the past four seasons, the Lions have enjoyed another impressive campaign and have lost just one of their past seven away games.

They have won on their travels at Barnsley, Sheffield United, Coventry, Derby and Reading as well as drawing nine games on the road.

Ahead of the clash, afcb.co.uk caught up with Alex Grace who covers the fortunes of Millwall for the South London Press and NewsAtDen. 

MILLWALL PROFILE

Ground: The Den

Nickname: The Lions

Manager: Gary Rowett (appointed October 2019)

Club captain: Alex Pearce

Current league position: Eighth

Leading goalscorer 2021/22: Benik Afobe (13 in all competitions)

Last game: Millwall 3-0 Peterborough United

afcb.co.ukWith one game to go, how would you sum up the season?

AG: I would sum up our season as another really good one.

For Millwall to be involved in the play-off race until the last day of the season is a testament to Gary Rowett and his team's job.

In February, no one would have thought this would have happened, but a five-game winning run in the middle of the month and through March injected new life into the campaign.

Keeping solid has been the main backbone of Millwall's success in the Rowett years and that has again been key this season. All in all, I'd say this has been a solid 8/10 season. 

afcb.co.ukWith the play-offs still in their sights, how do you think Gary Rowett (pictured above) will approach the game?

AG: He can only approach it in one way. He has to go for it.

Only a win for Millwall will give them any chance of being in the play-off conversation.

On top of that, they need two of Sheffield United, Luton and Middlesbrough to slip up.

The first half against Peterborough was one of caution where the Lions did not give much away but powered on in the second half. That is something that Rowett could adopt again here.

The Cherries aren't second in the league and promoted for no reason. There will need to be a sense of caution at the start. 

afcb.co.ukGive us a word on Benik Afobe’s season?

AG: He's had an excellent second half of the season, the first part of it was disrupted by injuries and inconsistent form, but he has knuckled down and found the net 13 times in all this season.

The partnership he has struck up with Tom Bradshaw has been a perfect one. The two players excellently complement each other. 

Afobe (pictured above) divides the Millwall fan base a little, some love him, and some aren't too keen on him.

What cannot be argued is that he has scored some crucial goals at crucial times, impacting the season. The leveller against the Cherries in the reverse fixture is one of those.

afcb.co.ukWho is Millwall’s one to watch?

AG: It has to be Jed Wallace (pictured above).

It could well be his last appearance in a Lions shirt unless the play-offs happen.

He changed the game when he came on against Peterborough. He made the second and third goals that took the game away from the Posh and kept the Lions in the play-off hunt until the final day.

Jed has been one of the most consistent players in the Championship over the last five years.

He will be crucial to Millwall's attack at Bournemouth and if they are looking for an easy day, keeping Jed quiet is an excellent way to achieve it. 

afcb.co.ukWho is Millwall’s rising star?

AG: Danny McNamara (pictured above). This has been his first full season in the team.

He went out on loan for the first part of last season and had a very successful spell at St Johnstone with former Millwall assistant manager Callum Davidson.

He made his Championship debut in this fixture last season and has dislodged Mahlon Romeo for the permanent gig this season.

He was voted as the Junior Lions player of the season, which is a fair reflection of an excellent campaign for the right wing-back.

His link-up play with Jed Wallace has also seen his attacking capabilities get better and better. 

afcb.co.ukAre any other key players either injured or suspended against the Cherries?

AG: Jed Wallace has been training this week and will be fit to start, according to Gary Rowett.

However, Scott Malone (pictured above) and Dan Ballard will miss the game as both are injured.

Ryan Leonard, who started the win over Posh, may also get a second successive start to get more minutes into what has been a brutal campaign for him. 

afcb.co.ukHow do you see the game panning out and what’s your score prediction?

AG: This is the big question. We know Millwall have to win. It's as simple as that.

Bournemouth are already promoted, and big congratulations to them. Getting promoted from the Championship automatically is no mean feat.

Hopefully, the players have spent the week partying and are on the beach. I'm confident that Millwall can hold their side of the bargain. 1-0 Lions for me. 

You can follow Alex on Twitter – @AlexGrace12

Officials: Andre Marriner (referee), Simon Long (assistant), Scott Ledger (assistant), James Linington (fourth official).

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