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League One

Caolan Lavery transfer listed, so should Paul Cook sign him for a third time?

The Wigan Athletic boss has worked with Lavery on two prior occasions.

Mathew Coull

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Sheffield United announced their intentions for several players next season this week, by revealing their retained list. Not only did the club make clear just who was being let go this summer, but also who had been placed on the transfer list. One such player was striker Caolan Lavery.

The Canadian-born forward only joined the Blades from local rivals Sheffield Wednesday in 2016 but it appears he is no longer needed at Bramall Lane. He spent the second half of the current campaign on loan at League One side Rotherham United and is still with the club as they fight for promotion via the playoffs.

The Millers will surely represent one option for the Northern Ireland under-21 next season, but another team who might want to register an interest are already promoted Wigan Athletic.

There is little doubt that Wigan boss Paul Cook is a fan of the forward. In the past, he has signed Lavery twice.

Cook first snapped up the striker when he was the manager at Chesterfield. Lavery spent time on loan at the club in the 2014-15 campaign, scoring three goals in eight games.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

The following season he partnered up with Cook yet again. Lavery joined Portsmouth on loan, this time finding the net four times in 13 games – impressing in both loan spells.

There is little doubt that Cook knows how to get the best out of Lavery. With Wigan being promoted they will need to increase the size and quality of their squad. Lavery is a very talented attacker but, of course, is clearly not going to light up the Championship on a weekly basis.

However, he is someone that Cook can rely on and Wigan will no doubt need players just like him if they are to be a success in the Championship next season.

Lavery will likely be cheap and Cook knows what he is getting. Wigan should certainly go ahead and make this deal happen.

Sports journalist based in Bristol. Previously at HITC Sport. Everton fan for my sins.

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Championship

Exclusive: Steve Morison raves about Millwall fans, discusses ‘difficult’ Leeds spell

The Welsh international spoke with pride when reflecting on Millwall’s most recent Championship campaign.

Jake Jackman

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Steve Morison
Photo: Getty Images

Millwall achieved an impressive 8th placed finish during their first season back in the Championship and were ultimately only three points off of a play-off place.

The Lions were one of the surprise packages of the 2017/18 Sky Bet Championship season and Neil Harris deserves a great deal of praise for the results that he has delivered at The Den.

One player who symbolises what the club represents is striker Steve Morison.

The 34-year-old has played over 200 matches for the Lions and will undoubtedly go down as a Millwall legend.

In an exclusive interview with The Boot Room, the Welsh international spoke proudly about the recent campaign, praising the incredible team spirit as the reason behind the club’s success:

“We’ve got an incredibly tight-knit and committed squad of players who work hard both individually and collectively.

“Since he first took charge, the manager has implemented a way of playing which gets the best out of the players he has at his disposal and also, since the back end of last season, we’ve formed a great bond with the supporters.

“Each of those elements are important individually, but when you add them all together then it shouldn’t really be as big as surprise that we have surpassed expectation as it has been made out by some.”

(Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

Although Millwall cannot compete with the finances of some of the bigger clubs in the second tier, they boast an ardent fan-base and they have found a set of players who have been successfully able to connect with those in the stands.

In the past, the supporters have been difficult to play in front of and some players have struggled to live up to expectation but that hasn’t been a problem for the current squad. Understandably, Morison was keen to emphasise the tremendous role that the supporters played throughout the campaign.

“They can be a tough crowd to play for when things are going against you but so long as you keep putting everything in to each performance, playing with passion and desire, then they will continue backing you.

“I’ve played at Millwall for a long time now all-in-all and I’m sure they respect my achievements and personality, as I do their honesty and love for the club.”

It is no surprise to hear Morison speak highly of the club’s supporters. After all, he has played more matches for Millwall than he has at any other club he has been with.

This is his third spell at The Den and he is a player that the supporters have formed a genuine connection with.

A no-nonsense centre-forward, who benefits from the atmosphere created by the fans, Morison doesn’t shirk a physical encounter, making him the perfect striker for the current squad.

“This really feels like home for me as a player. The club gave me my big chance when I first moved here, which was a platform to go on to play for my country and in the Premier League.

“Since that first spell I’ve been back twice, firstly on loan which wasn’t so successful for me or the club, and more recently since the gaffer took over.

“The style of play suits me and I suit the style of play, which is why I think my best performances have tended to come in a Millwall shirt.”

This season, Morison has shown no sign of slowing up, playing 44 of the Lions’ Championship matches and becoming one of the mainstays of the team under Neil Harris.

The 34-year-old only scored five times, but he was an important part of Millwall’s success. In addition to his goals, he contributed eight assists and was a handful every time he stepped out onto the pitch.

Over the course of the campaign he moved to within ten of 100 goals for the club.

(Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

“Personal records and accolades are always nice to receive but if I’m not scoring and the team is winning then I’m far happier than I would be if it was the other way around.

“I’ve had some great memories of my time at Millwall and hope there is many more to come, including reaching that goal landmark which any player, no matter what club they play for, should be proud of.”

That would be a major landmark to reach and it is likely that he will be given more than a fair opportunity to get the goals required.

Naturally, Morison is right to speak about the team being more important than personal achievement, but there is a good chance that he can enjoy both at The Den.

It would be a great moment for him, as he has enjoyed his best years at the club and to reach 100 goals would be a fair representation of his contribution.

Morison will be remembered fondly by the Millwall supporters, but the current manager in the dugout is already legend at the club.

Neil Harris achieved a lot as a player and has had a similar impact since taking over as the number one at The Den.

His former team-mate speaks positively about his current boss and it is obvious that he sees him as havingd a bright future in management.

“The gaffer is one of those who knows how to get the best out of players both individually and, when all put together, as a team. He is very honest and up front and we regularly have lengthy chats about all sorts of things. He respects the opinions of his players, especially senior ones like myself.

“He knows this club so well – he’s a Millwall legend – but he was right when he said, after his appointment, that he wanted to be judged on his performance as a manager and not as the player he was.

“Since then we’ve been to Wembley twice, winning promotion once, and almost secured a Play-Off spot for a chance to get to the Premier League. Those achievements speak for themselves and ultimately say a lot about his quality as a manager and a person.”

(Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

There are times when a manager and club fit like a glove. Harris and Millwall are an example of that.

He played the majority of his career at The Den and is one of the players who, like Morison aims to, scored more than 100 goals for The Lions.

During his playing career, he learnt everything there was to know about the club and it isn’t a shock that it has allowed him to transition seamlessly into management.

Harris started as the boss of the Under-21s and is now emerging as one of the most exciting coaches in the country.

Millwall’s style of play is functional, but it has earned the club good results.

An 8th placed finish is a superb achievement and sees them finish above the likes of Leeds United, Norwich City and Sheffield Wednesday, all of whom were seen as teams that could challenge for promotion this season.

He may now be seen in a similar way to Harris, but Morison hasn’t been at Millwall for his entire career.

The Welsh international tested himself at a higher level with Norwich in the Premier League. Meanwhile, he also played for Leeds United, but failed to make an impact at Elland Road.

It didn’t work out for him in Yorkshire, but he doesn’t want to make excuses for his lack of impact.

“I’ve been fairly honest in my assessment of my time at Leeds in the past. It just didn’t work out anywhere near as well as I’d hoped or the club had hoped for me. It was a difficult time to be a player with the controversy and uncertainty in the background, which does have an impact on performances and results.

“But as an individual I don’t want to make excuses. I didn’t play as well as I would have liked and as I have done since.”

Although it didn’t work out for Morison at Leeds, he won’t finish his career looking back at the spell with regret. Ultimately, it led him back to Millwall and that is where he feels at home.

The atmosphere and playing style allow him to play to a high standard, despite approaching 35 years of age.

Although some would consider Morison to be nearing the end of his time as a player, he isn’t ready to call it a day just yet.

“So long as I feel fit and I’m contributing then I want to play as long as possible. You’re a long time retired as a footballer and I want to prolong my own career as much as is possible.

“I feel that I’ve contributed well again this season and am looking forward to coming back for training again at the end of June to get ready for another campaign. I don’t look too far forward.

“As a club we’ve got to ensure that this season and the success we’ve enjoyed becomes a platform for progression and even bigger and better things in 2018/19. That has to be our aim.”

There is a lot for Morison to achieve before hanging up his boots. The 100 goals will be on his mind, even if it isn’t his main priority. Also, he will want to continue to play a part in the progression of Millwall.

The Lions finished 8th this season and there will be a desire to go one step further and make the play-offs during the 2018/19 campaign. It would be an incredible achievement for the club to reach the top-flight, but the last 12 months show that it shouldn’t be considered impossible.

Morison still has a part to play and it is clear he has the hunger to deliver sustained progression at the club.

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Millwall

Millwall should add free agent Jordan Graham to their cast of Wolves misfits

Millwall will be looking to build on their late play-off charge next season.

Mathew Coull

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Wolverhampton Wanderers enjoyed a fantastic season in the Championship this term. Wolves won the title and led for most of the campaign. Now the club must prepare for a return to the Premier League. That will no doubt see more mass investment from the club’s Chinese owners and, in turn, plenty of faces leaving the Molineux.

One such player is likely to be winger Jordan Graham. The 23-year-old is out of contract at Wolves this summer and it looks unlikely he will be sticking around. He has suffered from the influx of new talent arriving at the club and is something of a forgotten man at Wolves.

Which might interest Millwall. The Championship’s unlikely play-off challengers are coming off the back of a great season when they surpassed even the most optimistic of predictions.

(Photo by Ashley Allen/Getty Images)

Some of their key players for the campaign have been those turfed out by Wolves after the Fosun revolution. George Savile, Jed Wallace and Ben Marshall have all been integral to Neil Harris’ side and their success.

So why not bring in Graham as well?

Millwall will want to build on their fantastic end to last season but finances are tight at The Den. Therefore, a talented wide man like Graham being available for free will undoubtedly interest Millwall.

It is easily forgotten just how impressive Graham was during the 2015-16 season at Wolves. Unfortunately, a knee injury cut short his momentum and he has struggled for first-team football at Wolves ever since.

Millwall, as a club, is clearly more than happy to offer talented players a second chance.

Graham is a magnificent wide-man and his pace and trickery would be more than welcome at Millwall in the summer.

Harris should certainly consider adding him to his ever-growing band of Wolves misfits in South London this summer.

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Peterborough United

Rangers should do everything possible to sign Peterborough’s Jack Marriott

The League One hitman has scored 33 goals this season.

Josh Kerr

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Jack Marriott
Photo: Getty Images

Rangers have become the latest side to express their interest in Peterborough striker Jack Marriott, according to reports from Sky Sports.

The Glasgow side are one of several clubs interested in the 23-year-old striker, who has been breathtaking in League one this season.

Newly appointed manager Steven Gerrard will face some serious competition from the likes of Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest, who are also interested in securing Marriott’s signature this summer.

The Peterborough striker has scored an astonishing 33 goals in his first season at London Road and is arguably the hottest property in Sky Bet League One.

Quotes from Marriott’s Scottish boss, Steve Evans, as reported by the Peterborough Telegraph, suggest there has been plenty of interest in his star player:

(Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

“There is huge interest in a special talent and I trust the board to do what’s in the best interests of the club and of the player.

“The chairman turned down unacceptable bids for Jack in January and if those same bids come in for him now they will still be unacceptable.”

Marriott scored almost 40% of the club’s 68 League One goals this season and Rangers should do everything in their power to sign such a prolific talisman.

It will cost potential suitors at least £5 million to tempt Marriot away from Peterborough, according to the Daily Mail.

This will come as a stumbling block for Rangers, whose financial problems have been well documented in recent years.

However, Steven Gerrard has been brought in to bring in these big-profile players so the Gers have to accept they may have to break the bank to satisfy their new manager.

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