The Championship’s draw specialists Millwall picked up yet another point on the road yesterday against Nottingham Forest, but a selection decision from Gary Rowett caused much discussion pre-match.
For the first time in a long while, giant centre-half Jake Cooper was dropped by the Lions manager for the trip to the City Ground, and it was the first time since 2017 that he was on the bench for the club in the league
Any other absences have been through injury and suspension so it shocked fans to see the number five as part of the substitutes, with Murray Wallace chosen to partner Shaun Hutchinson and Dan Ballard.
Quiz: Have Millwall ever been involved in these 18 scenarios?
It worked out in the end in some respect with a point gained in a tough away trip, but for the whole match Cooper remained on the sidelines and watched on instead of getting on the pitch.
Rowett was quizzed post-match on his selection decision and it was very simple – he believed Wallace deserved it more than Cooper on recent form.
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“We’ve missed Hutchy, and with Hutchy coming back I had a big call really – whether to play Coops or Murray Wallace,” Rowett explained, per London News Online.
“I just felt as though Murray’s performances have earned him the right to go in there.
“But Coops will be back and will be stronger for it. He’s a top, top player.”
It will have been a shock for many to see Cooper on the bench, but Rowett has strength in depth at the back this season.
Dan Ballard has proven to be a solid addition on loan from Arsenal but you would have thought that Cooper is an automatic starter for the Lions – however his performance levels by all accounts have dipped.
After another decent result, Rowett may be tempted to stick with the same three defenders for Millwall’s midweek clash with Bristol City which could mean more time on the sidelines for Cooper.
You can’t imagine that a player with his talent though will stay on the bench for too long though and it will surely only be a matter of time before he’s back on the pitch for the club.