Mahlon Romeo is happy for Millwall to be one of the bookies’ favourites for the Championship drop.
The Lions have had contrasting campaigns since winning promotion to the second tier – finishing eighth in the 2017-18 season but then struggling as they came 21st last time out.
But Romeo reckons that the SE16 outfit have come back to training in the right frame of mind.
The right-back, speaking after Saturday’s 4-0 friendly win over Concord Rangers, said: “This has been one the sharpest starts to pre-season I’ve had – everyone is properly buzzing, it’s good.
“What happened last season is never ideal, no-one wants to finish the way we did – scrapping for our lives in the last few months. But that is sometimes how it goes. When you are in that position you have to get through it, which we have done.
“It wasn’t part of the gameplan – but it happened. This season we have got to come back harder.
“We wanted to try and recreate what we did [in Millwall’s first season back in the Championship] – football doesn’t work like that.
“Now we have had a season in the Championship where we have finished very high and another where we have finished very low. Hopefully we can take the experience of both seasons and come out a lot better than we did last season.”
Asked about the betting odds on Millwall – backed along with South London rivals Charlton to struggle – the former Southend United right-back was unfazed.
“I’m not a betting man,” he said. “There are a lot of factors – maybe that is down to wages and the money compared to what some other teams are spending. But that doesn’t bother me or anyone at the club.
“None of us look into it. If anything it will be a boost – to prove people wrong. It’s not something that weighs heavily on our minds.”
Romeo has played 136 times for the Lions and racked up 47 appearances last season.
He signed what was described as a “long-term” contract with Millwall in June 2018.
“The aim for me is just to stay consistent,” said Romeo. “Every day is different at this level – it is such a big step up from League One.
“I just try to learn as much as I can – whether that is from the gaffer, Livs [David Livermore] or any of the staff. They are always helping me to get through the games.
“As a right-back, having Pearcey [Alex Pearce] next to me is a big help. He is so loud and really assertive – he gets the boys going. We are proper tight – a very close squad. There are no cliques, which is a massive help.”
Both Millwall manager Neil Harris and Steve Morison both alluded to issues behind the scenes last season – the former making it clear that he wanted to perform major surgery on his playing squad this summer.
“If you consider how last season ended up then naturally things might get a bit shaky and nervy,” said Romeo. “Maybe that can come into play off the pitch as well.
“I don’t think it will be something that happens this season.”