Gary Rowett is hoping to bring in Mason Bennett from Derby County this month, according to Football Insider.
In a bid to cement his side’s play-off credentials, Lions boss Rowett is hoping to bring a former player of his to The Den in Bennett – the pair worked together when Rowett was in charge of Derby.
The 23-year-old forward has been with County since the age of 14, when he was offered a professional contract with the club. He was playing for the reserve team as soon as he signed that contract with the Rams, and made his first-team debut aged just 15.
He was meant to be the ‘next big thing’ in English football, with both Manchester clubs having had an interest in him earlier on in his career.
After several loan-spells though, Bennett’s career had seemingly peaked and he’s been sidelined since November after undergoing ankle surgery – he’s played just nine games in all competitions this season.
Expected to be back to fitness this month though, here’s three ways that Bennett could slot into Rowett’s Millwall side if he signs:
Middle of a front-three
Millwall have played a variety of formations under Rowett – two up-front, a lone-striker or three up-front, and it was the latter that Rowett deployed in their last game, a 0-0 draw at Stoke City.
Tom Bradshaw started in-between Jed Wallace and Connor Mahoney. The Welshman is on eight goals for the season and is one of many Millwall players who’ve flourished under Rowett.
He can blow hot and cold though and too often he’ll go missing in games, as we saw against the lowly Stoke at the weekend. Bennett’s arrival will give him some stern competition and in the middle of a front-three, Bennett’s pace and power should compliment that of Wallace and whoever else plays beside him, making for a sharp Lions attack.
Bennett could also play with a strike partner, in what’d likely be the classic 4-4-2. It’s a formation that’s rarely seen in football today, but this could well work for Millwall.
They have two good strikers in Bradshaw and Matt Smith at the moment, and the addition of Bennett would give them three Championship-level strikers that they could rotate at their will – rotation is a key element going into the second-half of the season, as players begin to tire.
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Playing with Bradshaw who’s quite like-for-like with Bennett, or with Smith which would make for the old school ‘big and little’ strike partnership – either could work for Rowett.
Playing with a lone striker is a norm of modern football. It allows for teams to have an extra body in defence or midfield and it often makes for better looking football, with interchanges between a midfield five and the striker.
Bennett though would unlikely be dealt the task of leading the Millwall front-line of his own – his goal-scoring record for Derby is pretty woeful (four in 65 games) and the likes of Matt Smith are better equipped to play as a lone striker.
Nevertheless it’s an option for Rowett going forward – an injury to either Smith or Bradshaw would put him in deep trouble, so an extra body in Bennett could go a long way.