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Tom Bradshaw exclusive: Millwall striker on Championship play-off aims, Wales dreams and attacking partnership with Zian Flemming

By on March 16, 2023 0 30 Views

Tom Bradshaw exclusive: Millwall striker on Championship play-off aims, Wales dreams and attacking partnership with Zian Flemming

Tom Bradshaw won Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month for February; in-form striker discusses his partnership with Flemming, his Wales dream and play-off aims. Millwall vs Swansea live on Sky Sports Football Red Button and Sky Sports app on Tuesday; kick-off 7.45pm

It was roles reversed for Millwall’s top two attackers on Saturday. A week after Zian Flemming had played in Tom Bradshaw to score the opening goal against Norwich, it was Bradshaw’s pass through for Flemming that led to the Dutchman winning a penalty which made the breakthrough at Reading.

Millwall held on this time, bouncing back from that thrilling but frustrating 3-2 defeat at home to Norwich with a hard-fought 1-0 victory on the road which has moved them back into the play-off places.

After a strong season so far, they are now well-placed as the run-in ramps up.Bradshaw and Flemming have been key figures in the team’s success to this point. The pair have 13 Championship goals each. Only four players in the division have scored more. But it is the combination play between them which is an important aspect of Millwall’s attacking play.

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With club-record signing Flemming dropping deep to start attacks before bursting forwards, Bradshaw is able to push onto defences and utilise his main strength as a striker: converting from close range.

“Zian and I have developed a great relationship as a No 10 and a No 9,” Bradshaw tells Sky Sports after picking up his Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month prize for a fruitful February.
“For me as a striker it’s great to have someone like Zian in the No 10 role because naturally I like to get higher up the pitch whereas he likes to drop into holes and get on the ball and turn and start attacks off. I think that’s why we balance each other out so well.

Bradshaw and Zian Flemming celebrate

“Scouting-wise, to get Zian for what we got him for, although it was a club record, I think it was a snip of what he’s actually going to be worth. He’s had an incredible year.”Hopefully our goal battle will continue for the rest of the season!”

Bradshaw and Flemming are Millwall’s top goal scorers this season

Six of Bradshaw’s league goals this season have come from within the six-yard box. Only the division’s top scorer Chuba Akpom has hit the net more times from that area of the pitch. Bradshaw’s shot map also illustrates his preference for shooting from central areas close to goal.His style has become something of a running joke at Millwall’s training ground but there can be no doubting his effectiveness in this campaign. Bradshaw is enjoying the best scoring season of his career at this level, with two hat-tricks among the highlights.

Bradshaw’s shot map for Millwall in the Championship this season shows his preference for close-range efforts

“If we’re shooting from outside the box in training I jokingly say that this is too far out for me and out of my comfort zone,” Bradshaw says with a laugh, shortly after finishing another cold but high-spirited session.”But if I think back on my career, most of my goals have come from either inside the six-yard box or around it. That’s just me as a striker, I like to score a lot of goals from crosses and cut-backs and being in and around the box. Whereas Zian will score a fair few more bangers from 20-25 yards out!”Everyone in the team has different strengths and weaknesses and we balance that out really well, with everyone sort of complementing each other.”Millwall boss Gary Rowett certainly seems to have found the right blend among the collective this term and that could bring more individual accolades Bradshaw’s way, with the forward hoping for a chance to add to his three Wales caps in the March international break.”That’s something I’m very passionate about and I’ve got one eye on the upcoming games,” he says. There has been no conversation with national team manager Rob Page yet. “With a lot of big names in Welsh football retiring, I think he’s got enough on his plate at the moment!” Bradshaw adds with another laugh.

Bradshaw scored the opening goal in Millwall’s recent defeat to Norwich

It’s clear from the conversation, Millwall’s players are confident, ambitious and feeling positive. That’s a good position to be in for the final push. So can they sustain it?”It’s more of the same for us,” says Bradshaw when asked what the team must do in these final games to grab a play-off spot.”It’s about keeping that freshness. A lot of the strength we have is getting after teams, pressing them high, having a high energy about us. A lot of times, if we’re on it, we can blow teams away in the first 15 minutes in terms of getting after the ball and scoring an early goal.”I think the fans are starting to believe a little bit. In previous seasons we’ve always been in and around there but we’ve always been chasing the pack, whereas this season it definitely feels like we’re in and amongst it. We as players believe that we’re good enough to be up there.”That belief among the fans and players will grow further if Millwall can secure a victory against Swansea at The Den on Tuesday night. Bradshaw and Flemming were both out injured when the sides met back in August but that attacking axis is fit and firing now and primed to have another big impact in the Championship play-off race.

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