Millwall manager Neil Harris has explained why Billy Mitchell did not head out on loan before Monday’s deadline.
The 18-year-old midfielder started for the Lions in their League Cup tie at Oxford United just before the international break.
Mitchell, a season-ticket holder at The Den before signing academy forms, made his Championship debut as a substitute on the final fixture of last season at Wigan Athletic in May.
“I only want players to go on loan if the loan move is right for them and if a club is really strong on taking a player.,” said Harris. “Billy wouldn’t have really caught the eye of scouts at this early stage.
“Clubs will want to see him, to see where he is at.
“He did himself no harm [against Oxford] in terms of my opinion of him and clubs would have been there to watch.
“We’re not going to get carried away by one strong performance by Billy Mitchell. There is a long way for Billy to go in terms of developing and he’ll know that better than anybody.
“He was outstanding [against Oxford] and was very good in pre-season. At the end of last season he trained with the first-team and he was excellent in those sessions.
“He had half an hour in the Wigan game and he handled the occasion very well.
“He was good in various positions in pre-season. It’s important to try and continue his pathway and that young lads know if they do well then they can step into training or games, there is that opportunity in the main squad.
“Billy has got a bright future at the club, he fits into the way we want to play. If he continues to shine and improve as a player then opportunities will be there.
“Sometimes young lads have to wait for that opportunity – rely on a bit of fortune, an injury or a suspension. When it comes they have to take it.
“The key is using youngsters at the right time. We’ll have to judge month by month Billy’s progression.
“He is just starting to play U23 football and that is an important next stage.”
PICTURE BY BRIAN TONKS