Striker crisis gets worse

Last updated : 06 November 2003 By Neil Andrews
Big Bad Bob
Millwall will go into their top of the table clash with Reading next week with all three first choice strikers unavailable for selection.

With Neil Harris sidelined through injury and Noel Whelan out for up to eight weeks with a torn hamstring, Millwall's striking woes were dealt a further blow when Belgium international Bob Peeters picked up his fifth booking of the season. He will now miss the Reading match through suspension.

To make matters worse, Mark McCammon is still nursing a long-term injury which means The Lions are now down to the bare bones when it comes to attacking options.

Youngsters Kevin Braniff and Ben May both have first team experience, but May is currently out on loan to Brenford. That leaves Moses Ashikodi - who last season became Millwall's youngest ever player when he appeared for the first team at the age of 15 - or another of the youth team. Paul Ifill has played up front already this season but Dennis Wise is reluctant to play people out of position.

Another possible option is a short-term loan deal but not many clubs will be willing to loan out their strikers at this stage of the season. To further complicate matters, chairman Theo Paphitis is still to appoint a new manager and Dennis Wise's caretaker duties end this Saturday away to Norwich - making a loan deal nigh on impossible.

Braniff has lead the line before during a similar injury crisis which ultimately cost managers Keith Stevens and Alan McCleary their jobs, but is not prolific in front of goal. May, meanwhile, is enjoying a good spell at Griffin Park and may jump at the chance to lead The Lions' forward line.

Ifill looks like the best option at this stage, especially when the form of wingers Peter Sweeney and Abou Forfana are taken into consideration, and it could be Iffy who gets the nod to lead the forward line with Braniff on Saturday week.