Leyton Orient forward Conor Wilkinson has claimed he would love to return to Millwall in the future but suggested that it may be an unpopular move amongst fans, speaking exclusively to Football League World.
Wilkinson spent part of his early career at the south London club but left to join Bolton as a teenager in 2014 without ever making an appearance for the Lions.
His exit proved a controversial one after an interview with the Bolton News in which he labelled the Trotters “a much bigger club” and suggested he’d left Millwall for “bigger and better things”.
Wilkinson now admits those comments were a mistake, as he explained in an exclusive interview with Football League World.
When quizzed about a potential return to Millwall, he said: “I’d love to go back there but I don’t think the fans would be too keen.
“I was a bit naïve and young, I made a bit of a mistake when I was a 17-year-old and said I was on to bigger and better things in an interview. I kind of shot myself in the foot a little bit but I loved my time there.”
The 26-year-old joined the club as a teenager, having been scouted by academy manager Scott Fitzgerald after his release from Charlton Athletic.
He explained: “Scott Fitzgerald, I’ve never met a manager to look after me so well. I got released from Charlton and was playing with my mates for a few weeks. Luckily enough Scott’s son played there. He came to one game against Sutton or someone and said ‘right you’re coming to Millwall on trial’.
“I played one game against Palace and went into training on a Tuesday night and they said they were going to offer me a contract.
“From then on I was involved with the first team under Kenny Jackett and I was on the bench a few times in the FA Cup.”
Wilkinson never cemented his place in the Bolton first team but after bouncing around the EFL on loan he has settled at Orient, a move that has allowed him to have success.
Despite being played on the right flank this season, he is well on his way to his most productive season in front of goal – having scored 10 times already as he’s helped Ross Embleton’s side push for the play-offs.
“I think I’ve been a bit greedier perhaps this year,” said the O’s forward.
“I’ve scored more goals and I’ve understood I need to put numbers up too, that’s what I’m judged on.
“I wouldn’t say I’ve been less creative, but I don’t think I’ve put as many chances on a plate for people. Danny Johnson’s our top scorer, he’s a fox in the box and he sniffs anything out.”
He added: “I’ve been an out-and-out nine wherever I’ve been but since I’ve been on the right, I’ve enjoyed every game. I don’t think I’ve had a game where I’ve come off and felt I haven’t got the better of my full-back or had a bad game.
“Sometimes as a nine, you can get lost in the game. Especially if your team are under pressure. It’s a hard role, getting your back to goal and having to fight with defenders.
“I’m happier with the ball at my feet than I am battling with opposition players. I do thoroughly enjoy it out on the right.”
Wilkinson is out of contract in the summer and despite indications from the O’s that they want to keep him, has not yet been offered a new deal.
The 26-year-old feels he is good enough to get back to the Championship, whether that would mean a return to The Den remains to be seen.