Exclusive Tom Bradshaw: Millwall striker on Championship play-off targets, Wales dreams and attacking partnership with Zian Flemming | Football news

On Saturday, the roles of Millwall’s two best strikers reversed.

A week after Zian Flemming played for Tom Bradshaw and scored the opening goal against Norwich, it was Bradshaw’s pass to Flemming that led to the Dutchman winning a penalty that marked Reading’s breakthrough.

Millwall held out this time, bouncing back from an exciting but frustrating 3–2 home defeat to Norwich thanks to a hard-fought 1–0 away win that took them back to the play-off places.

After a strong season so far, they are now in a good position as the round begins.

Bradshaw and Flemming have been key figures in the team’s success so far. Both have 13 goals each in the championship. Only four players in the division have scored more goals. But it is the combination of play between the two that is an important aspect of Millwall’s attacking game.

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Watch Bradshaw and Zian Flemming win the Millwall Championship in Reading together.

With club record holder Flemming diving deep to launch attacks before firing forward, Bradshaw is able to break through defenses and use his main strength as a striker: close-range conversion.

“Zian and I developed a great relationship as #10 and #9,” says Bradshaw Sky sports after claiming the Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month award for a fruitful February.

“For me as a striker, it’s great to have someone like Zian in the No 10 role because I naturally like to go higher up the pitch, while he likes to get into the holes and get on the ball, spin around and start attacking. I think that’s why we balance each other so well.

Tom Bradshaw and Zian Flemming celebrate
Bradshaw and Zian Flemming celebrate

“In terms of scouting, getting Zian for what we got him for, although it was a club record, I think it was a fraction of what he would really be worth. He had an amazing year.

“Hopefully our goal fight will continue until the end of the season!”

Tom Bradshaw and Zian Flemming are Millwall's top scorers this season
Bradshaw and Flemming are Millwall’s top scorers this season

Six of Bradshaw’s league goals this season have come from the box. Only the division’s top scorer, Chuba Akpom, has netted more times from this 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 joke at the Millwall training ground, but there’s no doubting his effectiveness this campaign. Bradshaw is enjoying the best scoring season of his career at this level, with two hat-tricks among the highlights.

Tom Bradshaw's shotmap for Millwall in the Championship this season
Bradshaw’s shot map for Millwall in the Championship this season shows he favors close range attacks

“If we shoot from outside the box in training, I jokingly say it’s too far for me and out of my comfort zone,” Bradshaw says with a laugh, shortly after another cold but exhilarating session ends.

“But if I think about my career, most of my goals have come either from inside or outside the box. It’s just me as a striker, I like to score a lot of goals from crosses and cuts and being in and around the box while Zian scores a few more shots from 20-25 yards!

“Everyone on the team has different strengths and weaknesses and we balance that really well and everyone complements each other.”

Millwall boss Gary Rowett looks to have found the right mix among the collective this season which could bring more individual honors on Bradshaw’s path, with the striker hoping for a chance to add to his three appearances for Wales at the March international break.

“It’s something I’m very passionate about and I have one eye on upcoming games,” he says. There has been no talk yet with national team manager Rob Page. “With many big names in Welsh football retiring I think he has enough on his plate at the moment!” Bradshaw adds with another laugh.

Tom Bradshaw from Millwall scores against Norwich
Bradshaw scored the opening goal in Millwall’s recent defeat to Norwich

It is clear from the conversation that Millwall players are confident, ambitious and positive. This is a good position for a final attack. So can they keep it?

“It’s more of the same for us,” says Bradshaw when asked what the team needs to do in these final games to earn a playoff spot.

“It’s about keeping that fresh. A lot of the power we have is about getting teams, pushing them high, having a lot of energy in us. A lot of times if we’re at it, we can blow teams away in the first 15 minutes in terms of getting behind the ball and scoring an early goal.

“I think the fans are starting to believe it a bit. In previous seasons, we’ve always been around but always chasing the herd, while this season definitely feels like we’re in and out of them. As players, we believe we are good enough to be there.”

That belief among fans and players will only grow if Millwall secure a victory over Swansea at The Den on Tuesday night. Bradshaw and Flemming were both injured when the two sides met in August, but this attacking axis is now fit and shooting and poised to make another big impact in the championship play-off race.

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