BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Millwall manager Neil Harris has declined to comment on a loan link to QPR striker Matt Smith – but admits he is hoping to add the final piece of the January jigsaw without a late deadline dash.
Smith, 29, has struggled for game time with the west Londoners this season with Nakhi Wells, Tomer Hemed and Arimede Oteh all fitting in better to the playing plans of Hoops chief Steve McClaren.
And Millwall seem to be in the market for a targetman-type with Tom Elliott out with a shoulder injury which could yet require surgery.
Smith is an aerial powerhouse in a similar mould to the former AFC Wimbledon man. He was a target for the Lions when Ian Holloway was at the helm in 2014 – but ended up instead switching Leeds for Fulham.
“We need an attacking player and we are looking at all options,” said Harris. “There are players available one minute, and then they are not. A lot don’t want to move in January and are quite happy to see the season out.
“I don’t want to talk about individual players who we might have identified. I’ll just talk in general terms. It has been very difficult, as ever, and we’ve had to be very patient. Clubs are cautious about letting players out and we are no different in that respect. We have got to do what is best for ourselves and make sure you don’t leave yourself too thin on the ground squad-wise.
“An agent might let you know that a player is available and when it gets to the nitty-gritty of a decision, that player is not available.”
Next Thurday is the deadline for deals to be done.
“We don’t want to go to the wire,” said Harris. “We wanted three players and we have got two already. We want them in as quickly as possible because the market changes so fast. We have a primary target, secondary target and third target.
“It’s a balancing act of how long you wait for your primary target before moving on to your second or third choices.”
There have been no developments with Jiri Skalak making a temporary exit. The summer addition from Brighton could come into the reckoning this weekend against Everton with Ben Marshall and Ben Thompson already FA Cup-tied.
“A few players are available to go out on loan,” said Harris. “But if nobody goes then I’m more than happy having the squad we have got for the second half of the season.”