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Opposition Lowdown: Millwall Standing In Reading’s League Cup Path

Reading’s Carabao Cup campaign kicks off with a trip to South East London as The Royals take on Millwall at The Den. Join us as we take a look at the opposition.

Sutton United v Millwall - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Jacques Feeney/Offside/Offside via Getty Images


Millwall finished last season in eighth place in the Championship, only one point outside of the playoffs. They have become a well established Championship side since their promotion via the League One playoffs in 2017 and have finished in the top half of the table in their last four seasons.

They kick-started their season with a 0-1 win away to Middlesbrough at the weekend, with winger Romain Esse scoring the winner at The Riverside.

Neither side could claim the bragging rights over each other last season – with Reading winning 0-1 at The Den in August last year, where Naby Sarr scored the winner on his debut, before Millwall returned the favour with a 0-1 win at The Select Car Leasing Stadium in March this year, after a penalty from Andreas Voglsammer.

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.

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 also managed Stoke City, taking over in May 2018, but he only lasted eight months in the role and was sacked in January 2019.

Since joining Millwall in 2019 The Lions have never finished below 11th place in the Championship, finishing as high as eighth place, both last season and in 2020. Having been at the club for almost four years, Rowett is the second-longest-serving manager in the Championship, behind Coventry City’s Mark Robins.

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

Reading v Millwall - Sky Bet Championship - Select Car Leasing Stadium Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images


Millwall have had a productive summer with two players heading out the door at The Den and five players coming in.

Defender Scott Malone and Mason Bennett both left the club following the end of their contracts. Their biggest signing of the summer has been striker Kevin Nisbet who joined for a seven-figure fee from Hibernian, having almost joined the club back in January.

Defenders Joe Bryan and Wes Harding signed on free transfers, having left Fulham and Rotherham United respectively. They have also signed midfielder Casper de Norre (OH Leuven) and goalkeeper Matija Sarkic (Wolverhampton Wanderers) on permanent deals.

Expected line-up

Bialkowski, Harding, Hutchinson, Cooper, Wallace, Leonard, Saville, Esse, Flemming, Emakhu, Bradshaw

Key player

Zian Flemming: Attacking midfielder Flemming joined Millwall last July, signing on a permanent deal from Dutch side Fortuna Sittard.

The Dutchman started his professional career at Jong Ajax, making his debut for the club in 2017. He went on to join PEC Zwolle in 2018, before a loan spell at NEC Nijmegen and then another permanent move to Fortuna Sittard.

Flemming has a strong goalscoring record for a midfielder and had a hugely successful first season in English football, scoring 15 goals, one behind Millwall’s top scorer Tom Bradshaw. He also picked up the Millwall player of the season award.

The 25-year-old predominantly plays in the number 10 position but can also go up front. He has strong finishing skills, is effective in the air and holds the ball well.

One to watch

Romain Esse: Winger Esse is a product of the Millwall academy system, having joined the club in 2014. He made his debut on Boxing Day last year and has since gone on to make 14 appearances for the club.

Esse scored his first Lions goal in Saturday’s 0-1 win away to Middlesbrough. He has represented England at under-18 level and has five caps and one goal to his name in a Three Lions shirt. Esse typically plays on the wing, and has good pace and strong dribbling skills.