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Matt Smith acquired

July 1, 2019

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Millwall finally secured the services of QPR frontman Matt Smith on Monday.


The former Fulham and Leeds striker has been a long term target for the Lions, with the Rs rejecting Millwall's advances in the January transfer window.


Smith has netted 21 times in 92 matches for the Loftus Road outfit and looks to be the ideal replacement for Steve Morison, who departed Millwall this summer to join Shrewsbury on loan.


Tom Elliott may also leave the club after numerous family issues, meaning a target man was viewed as a vital signing to give the Lions a variation of options up front as well as more adaptability than in the past.


Tom Bradshaw looks to be the main frontman after Lee Gregory's departure, though it remains to be seen how the former Barnsley man will recover from his serious injury back in November at Griffin Park.


Millwall first chased Smith back in 2014 under Ian Holloway, though the now 30 year old moved to Craven Cottage instead.


He has since scored 42 goals in 185 Championship matches, but will also provide a focal point for the link play in attack, as well as adding to the array of current set piece targets Harris currently has at his disposal.


Neil Harris told Millwall FC: “Matt is a player we’ve chased for a long time, someone we’ve been linked with even before my reign.


“The reason the club has been attracted to him for some time is his style of play, he’s about the best there is out there at this level at attacking the ball aerially.


“He’s a big man at 6’6’’ who thrives off balls into the box, and you know he’s a handful when you’ve got players telling you he’s the toughest aerial opponent they’ve played against.


“What’s also important is that he’s a clever player. He might not have the pace of the likes of Jed Wallace, but he excels in the departments we’re looking for from him, he’s good with the ball at his feet and can link the play.


“Matt gives us an option with Steve Morison leaving, and with question marks over other players’ futures, so he’s important for us.


“It’s not the case whatsoever that now we’re just going to lump the ball up to Matt. We want to play as well – we showed that in patches last season – and we spoke openly about system changes. It’s important to have different varieties of personnel, and Matt certainly gives us that. He gives us the option to move the ball forward and play around second balls, and to deliver crosses into the box with his presence.


“The nature of the window in the Championship won’t change. Regarding ourselves, we’ve paid what is in my opinion a sensible fee for Matt, and we’re still looking to bring more players in.


“Matt’s a proven Championship goalscorer, and the three players we’ve brought in so far represent a spine of experience. Not only have they all played 200-300 games at this level, they’re also top pros.


“With some of the younger players working their way into the team, they need guidance from excellent pros, and Matt – alongside Alex Pearce and Frank Fielding – certainly provides that.”


“Ideally, we do want our new players in Portugal with the group, as we’re nailing down our style of play and what we expect from individuals with and without the ball.


“We still have a period of time before we go to Portugal. We’re still active in the market, still bid for players and are trying to agree personal terms with players, which is important but not always easy to get over the line.


“Matt’s another good piece of the jigsaw for us and we’re delighted to bring him into the group.”


Meanwhile, Smith spoke to the club's official site too: “I’m absolutely delighted to be here now.


“It’s been a process over the course of the off-season, and I’m ready to hit the ground running.”


“Being honest, it can be a little unsettling for a player when discussions are ongoing, but I’ve just tried to be as professional as possible and I had a week of training at QPR to get my fitness going.


“That was beneficial for me, and now I’m heading into week two of pre-season with Millwall and it’s fantastic.“I think any player will tell you that to come into an environment where the manager has a lot of faith and support in you will give you the utmost confidence. That was probably the biggest pull factor – I have a lot of respect for the gaffer and for what he’s done, especially here at Millwall. I’ll certainly look to learn a lot from him and repay his faith in me.


“From a footballing perspective, for me to be here seems like a really good fit, and all the tools are here for me to flourish.


“I’ll be taking the opportunity with both hands and will give my all for the side. I always play with my heart on my sleeve and give everything, and I think I have very obvious strengths and limitations.


“Being here I believe will really suit me, and hopefully I will score goals, contribute and really impact the side. I can’t wait to get stuck in on the training ground – roll on August 3rd for when the season starts.



“I turned 30 in June – I’m a senior pro now.


“I’ll always do my best to help the younger lads, put an arm around them when necessary and lead by example. From the outside looking in, it seems like we have a very honest bunch of lads here and I’m looking forward to being part of that environment.


“Whatever knowledge I’ve picked up from the Championship in recent years I will always try and help impart onto my teammates, and hopefully we can have a really successful season.


“I think any team will admit that they don’t enjoy coming to play away here. It’s intimidating for players from the opposition, but I’m looking forward to being on the other side of that now and having the support of the fans. Hopefully I can make a good impression and become a fans’ favourite so to speak, but that starts with hard work from my end.


“I do know Hutch [Shaun Hutchinson] from my time at Fulham, as well as Frankie [Fielding] from Bristol City and James Meredith from when we lived in Yorkshire in the past. I’ve had plenty of good battles in the past with players like Jake Cooper, too. I’m sure there’ll be a lot of friendly faces who will make me feel welcome quickly.


“I know how important team bonding is over the pre-season period. Certainly with the Portugal training camp, you’re going to be in close-quarters with the lads over a few days. It’s hard work, and any footballer will tell you that pre-season isn’t their most enjoyable part of the year, but it’s what is needed to give you that base level fitness going into what can be a long, physically gruelling campaign.


“It’s up to us to put the graft in, and I like to think that by the latter end of the season we will be reaping the rewards of that.”


Image: Millwall FC



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