Bantams may snub Europa League

BY foxsports • February 23, 2013

Millwall boss Kenny Jackett is demanding "a big response" from his players as the Lions try to avoid being sucked into a relegation scrap.

Despite reaching the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, Millwall have lost their last five Championship matches, and seven of their last nine to fall away from the play-off places and slip to six points above the drop zone.

The nadir of that run arrived on Tuesday when they were humiliated 5-1 at home to a Peterborough side who hauled themselves off the foot of the table with the thumping win.

Now Millwall travel to take on Middlesbrough, who are still in the hunt for a top-six finish, but on a wretched run themselves after losing six of their last eight in the league.

"We have to draw a line under Tuesday," said Jackett, speaking to independent website

"It is good this is a big game against a big club that is live on the television, and an opportunity for us to rediscover our league form, which has been poor while our FA Cup form has been good.

"The two have run almost in parallel to each other and to some degree that is frustrating, but it is what it is. The sooner we get ourselves out of it, the better.

"The only thing we can do about it is put on a good performance and win against Middlesbrough. That's what we are looking to do. We need a big response from all of us."

Jackett will be hoping veteran centre-back Danny Shittu is available after missing the last two games, initially with an ankle injury and then with flu.

With left-back Shane Lowry starting a three-match ban after he was sent off against Posh, Jackett already faces a defensive reshuffle.

Boro, meanwhile, are without striker Lukas Jutkiewicz and defender Stuart Parnaby after they sustained ankle and hamstring injuries in last weekend's 4-1 loss to Crystal Palace.

Mowbray knows, given Boro's poor form of late, a top-six finish is still comfortably within their grasp.

"We're fully aware the chasing pack are right on our heels now and the only way to stay in front of them is to win football matches," said Mowbray on the club's official website.

Odemwingie was disciplined by the Baggies after driving to QPR's Loftus Road without permission on transfer deadline day, only to be turned away with the deal having fallen through.

The striker had previously been critical of West Brom for rejecting QPR's advances, and had made his views known in a series of tweets.

Clarke, who confirmed Odemwingie is in contention to face Sunderland in Saturday's Premier League clash at the Hawthorns, said an outright ban on the Nigerian's use of social networking sites would be a step too far.

"We try and treat all our players like adults," said Clarke.

"I don't think you can sit them down and say you can't do this or that.

"It has been known for some clubs to do it, but you would probably need to put something in the contract to say a player couldn't use it.

"It is difficult to stop people Tweeting, although I don't do Twitter.

"Ninety-nine per cent of it is used very well. It is every now and then you get one line which maybe causes a stir."

Clarke stressed that he has been happy with Odemwingie's attitude in training since returning to the squad.

He said: "Peter has been good, there have been no problems.

"They are not a group of players who would tolerate people not working properly in training. I'm not a coach who would tolerate that either.

"We demand high standards and Peter's application and attitude has been as good as it was before January.

"Peter is in contention for a place in the squad."

On Sunday, Phil Parkinson's League Two side will become the first fourth-tier team to contest a League Cup final in more than half a century when they take on Michael Laudrup's Swans at Wembley.

But Bantams co-chairman Mark Lawn has revealed the west Yorkshire outfit may turn down the opportunity to compete in Europe next term if doing so would cost the club money.

Quoted in The Sun, he said: "I'm not going to pay to play in Europe.

"When we beat Villa (in the semi-final), I was told, 'You don't really want to get into Europe - it costs you money in the early rounds'.

"I said, 'Well, that'll be fun because if it costs us money, we won't be there'.

"Realistically, it's not going to be a problem because I don't think we're going to win against Swansea."

He added: "I won't put us in fiscal danger to play in Europe. That's not going to happen. I'm deadly serious.

"It's all very well saying there are financial rewards once you get to the group stage.

"But we're a fourth division club - realistically, we're not going to get there."

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