Millwall v Leeds United: Whites are ideal start for Lions - Bircham

Millwall manager Ian Holloway.
Millwall manager Ian Holloway.
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Millwall coach Marc Bircham believes the circumstances surrounding Saturday’s game against Leeds United are “all in our favour”, claiming the fixture list has thrown his club the ideal start.

Bircham spoke with unchecked confidence about Millwall’s chances of opening their season with a victory – but admitted he and manager Ian Holloway were “second-guessing” United’s tactics after a summer of upheaval at Elland Road.

Eight new signings have come to Leeds since the end of last season, all but two of them from the Italian leagues.

Several will be included in David Hockaday’s starting line-up in tomorrow, though centre-back Frederik Sorensen looks unlikely to play with his season-long loan from Juventus in some doubt.

The clutch of foreign players will be greeted by a typically hostile atmosphere at The Den as Leeds and Millwall renew a long-standing rivalry, and Bircham said home advantage had slanted to the fixture in favour of the Bermondsey club.

“It’s a fantastic first game,” Bircham said.

“I don’t think we could have picked a better one to start the season with.

“The fans will be right up for it because the atmosphere against Leeds is always good – and we’re possibly playing them at a good time as well.

“It’s all in our favour because we’re at home and we’ll get a great crowd behind us. It’s just up to the lads to get a result.”

Leeds have a poor record at The Den, beaten by the Lions on six of their last seven visits there, but their form on the first day of the English season is far more impressive, showing only two defeats since 1989.

Both sides meandered in the Championship last season with Leeds finishing 15th and Millwall down in 19th but Holloway spoke optimistically about his expectations, saying: “I want to do better than that. I want us to feel like we can achieve things.”

United’s unfamiliar squad are also hoping to defy predictions of another difficult term, and Bircham said: “It’s quite difficult to second-guess them.

“We just have to nail down our roles and responsibilities and be confident about our own set-up.”

Millwall are missing midfielders Nicky Bailey, Ed Upson and Richard Chaplow, all of whom have been ruled out by minor muscle strains.

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