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Opposition Lowdown: Gary Rowett’s Millwall

After two home wins on the bounce, Reading take on Millwall in the capital this Saturday. Join us as we take a look at the opposition.

Reading v Millwall - Sky Bet Championship Photo by David Horton - CameraSport via Getty Images


Millwall finished last season ninth in The Championship and currently sit 10th after the first five games of the season. Their home form has been key so far, with The Lions securing two wins in two – beating Stoke City 2-0 in their opening game of the season before staging an impressive comeback against Coventry City, taking the three points with a 3-2 victory, having gone 0-2 down in the first 28 minutes.

Their away form has been more challenging, seeing losses against Sheffield United and Norwich City. However, they drew 2-2 with Swansea City, again coming back from a two-goal deficit – with two stoppage-time own goals helping them rescue a point in Wales.

The Lions claimed a league double over Reading last season, winning 1-0 at The Den in November before claiming a 0-1 victory at the Select Car Leasing Stadium in March after a goal from former Royal Jake Cooper.

Swansea City v Millwall - Sky Bet Championship - Stadium Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images

The boss

Gary Rowett: Rowett became Millwall manager in October 2019, taking over from former Lions striker Neil Harris who resigned with the club sitting 18th in the Championship. Millwall finished in an impressive eighth place in Rowett’s first season at The Den, two points outside the playoffs. In fact, The Lions have finished in the top half of the Championship every season under Rowett so far, finishing 11th in 2020/21 and ninth last season.

The former Derby County and Birmingham City defender started his managerial career at Burton Albion before then returning to both The Blues and The Rams as manager. Prior to Millwall, Rowett managed Stoke City, taking over in May 2018. However, he only lasted eight months in the role and was sacked in January 2019.

Rowett typically favours playing five at the back, utilising wing backs. He likes his side to play with “efficiency and togetherness”.


Similar to Reading’s situation with John Swift, Millwall lost their star man Jed Wallace this summer with the winger moving to West Bromwich Albion, signing on a free following the conclusion of his contract with The Lions. They replaced Wallace with club-record signing Zian Flemming, with the highly rated attacking midfielder joining from Dutch Eredivisie side Fortuna Sittard.

The Lions have bolstered their squad with defender Charlie Cresswell and midfielder Jamie Shackleton, who both joined on loan from Premier League Leeds United United. They have also signed Benik Afobe on a permanent deal following a successful loan last season, whilst bringing in striker Andreas Voglsammer from Union Berlin and combative midfielder George Honeyman from Hull City, both on permanent deals.

Millwall v Stoke City - Sky Bet Championship
Jamie Shackleton
Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images

Millwall also saw Mahlon Romeo, Connor Mahoney, Maikel Kieftenbeld and former Royal Alex Pearce depart The Den this summer.

Millwall have close to a full-strength squad available for this weekend’s match-up, with Mason Bennett likely to be the only absentee, as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury.

Expected line-up

Bialkowski, Wallace, Cooper, Hutchinson, McNamara, Malone, Saville, Flemming, Honeyman, Burey, Afobe

Key player

Jake Cooper: Centre-back Cooper is a familiar face to Reading fans, having come through the academy before making 54 appearances for the Royals. Cooper originally joined Millwall on loan in January 2017 and won promotion to the Championship in his first season with The Lions. He signed permanently that summer and has gone on to make over 250 appearances for Millwall.

Standing at 6ft4, Cooper is dominant in the air, both defensively and in attack, and can regularly be seen getting on the end of corners in both boxes. The Berkshire-born defender has scored 24 goals in his senior career to date and already has one goal to his name so far this season.

One to Watch

Tyler Burey: Winger Burey signed for Millwall from AFC Wimbledon in June 2019, having come through The Dons’ youth system. He started last season on loan to Hartlepool, scoring three goals, before returning to Millwall in January.

Burey went on to make 16 appearances for Millwall last season, scoring twice. The pacey forward was named Millwall’s Young Player of the Season last year and has featured in all of The Lions’ last four league matches.