BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Neil Harris is not ruling out Aiden O’Brien leaving Millwall this summer – admitting the Republic of Ireland international endured some frustrating moments in the last campaign.
O’Brien was a regular starter in the Lions’ first-team at League One level.
But he has struggled to command the same kind of playing time in England’s second tier – although featuring at that level for the South Londoners did see him win senior recognition with Ireland.
O’Brien is contracted until the end of the 2019-20 campaign.
“Aiden has been at the club for a very long time,” said Lions boss Harris. “I think he has found some frustrations this year with maybe Shane [Ferguson] and Ben Marshall playing in front of him.
“What you have to do is embrace that challenge, get your head down and work hard – fight to get back in.
“Aiden’s had so many attributes which have suited us as a club and the way we like to play – whether that is 4-4-2 or 4-3-3. And Aiden can have a big part to play at this club.
“But also we have some players who have been at the club for a period of time and need a change of scenery. He’s someone I’ll be speaking to over the summer to see what his thoughts are.”
Harris has spelled out that just surviving in the Championship is not enough for him.
The Lions chief has already spoken about a need for chairman John Berylson to release greater funds this summer if Millwall are not to be involved in another grim drop battle.
And Harris has made it clear he wants to shake up the playing squad – far more than the last close-season when the club were basking in an eighth-place finish.
“We need to strive to be better,” said the Millwall manager. “In some ways I’m disappointed in the end that we have not had more consistency. But I also appreciate that when you are measuring success then staying in this division is an element of success for us, coupled with an FA Cup run which took us very close to a semi-final.
“All I’m saying to the players is that I don’t want to settle for that. I don’t want to be manager of a football club that settles for fourth from bottom.
“We’ve got the second-smallest budget in the league. We’re trying to over-achieve all the time and there will always be an element with Millwall that we have got to over-achieve and be the underdog.
“But I’ve got to a stage where I want to demand more as a club. My thoughts are that I want us to galvanise and drive this club forward.
“I know what needs to change and it’s not easy, because this football club had successive years of huge, huge success. Just because this year has been quieter – there has been some disappointment and some players have not played so well – all it does is highlight the fact we need to adjust. It needs an adjustment to the squad and we come back stronger.
“That’s the message for next season. No-one should be negative this year. It’s been one tough one in the last four.
“We will be better and people should be positive. Yes, I have to drive that by bringing in the right personnel. But having spent 17 years here as a player, coach and manager I know what makes this football club.
“I will make changes and we will be better next year.”