This article is part of Football League World’s ‘Player View’ series, this content strand is where we put ourselves in the shoes of a given player, and offer an opinion-based outlook on the situation at hand…
In a largely positive campaign, it has been a difficult few weeks for Millwall, who have slipped down to 10th in the Championship standings after tasting victory just once in their previous eight league matches.
Fortunately for the Lions, the sides around them haven’t been able to take full advantage of their dip in form and therefore Gary Rowett’s men travel to Nottingham Forest on Friday knowing that a first victory at the City Ground since 2015 will move them just two points behind sixth-placed Preston North End.
On Saturday, Millwall endured more frustrations as they were unable to collect their first league win since beating Preston in mid-February, drawing 1-1 with top-six rivals Bristol City at The Den on another disappointing afternoon on home soil.
And whilst the Lions are continuing to remain a defensively strong unit – with only the top-five having conceded fewer this season – their lack of goals is becoming a major concern.
Since netting twice in the first-half of their Elland Road defeat back in January, Millwall’s only goals have been a controversy strike from Jon Dadi Bodvarsson against Fulham, Shaun Hutchinson’s winner against Preston and then Tomas Kalas’ own goal against the Robins at the weekend. If alarm bells aren’t already ringing for Rowett, then they most certainly should be.
Millwall’s strikers have accounted for just 18 of their 40 Championship goals this term – which is the third fewest in the division – with eight of those coming from the giant figure that is Matt Smith. The 6ft6 frontman’s aerial threat has also helped him notch up four assists this term.
The former Queens Park Rangers frontman was unable to mark his return to the starting XI with another goal against Bristol City, although he might say differently. And given the form of the Lions’ other attackers, Smith should consider himself extremely unlucky not to playing more often – his start on Saturday was just his fifteenth of the campaign, compared to 13 from Bodvarsson and 24 from the out of sorts Tom Bradshaw.
In terms of minutes-per-goal in the league, Smith is out in front for the Lions, scoring every 183 minutes, which is also a better rate than the likes of Patrick Bamford, Andre Ayew, Martyn Waghorn, Jordan Hugill and Hal Robson-Kanu and far more impressive numbers than Bradshaw and Bodvarsson, who average a Championship goal every 273 and 615 minutes respectively.
Smith’s stature would obviously mean a possible change in style for Rowett, but with Millwall’s strikers struggling for form during a crucial stage of the season where Millwall’s play-off hopes are in serious danger of slipping away, it’s time for Smith to be called upon.