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A highly unlikely spot in the playoffs cannot be ruled out for Millwall just yet, but inconsistency bedevilled them in the final stages of 2021, and they kicked off 2022 in the worst possible way by ending up on the wrong end of a five-goal scoreline versus Bristol City.
Tom Bradshaw and Benik Afobe cancelled out Andreas Weimann‘s opener to put Gary Rowett‘s side 2-1 up heading into half time, but Weimann led the Bristol City charge to complete his hat trick in the second 45 – his third of which came in the 85th minute.
The Championship outfit have now won just two of their last eight games in the second tier ahead of Saturday’s battle, but the Lions do not do third-round exits in the FA Cup very often, making it past this stage in each of the last five seasons.
Millwall’s cup run has ended in the fourth round twice on the bounce, though – with recent opponents Bristol City sending them packing at that stage last term – but their five-game unbeaten home run will serve to increase the confidence within Rowett’s ranks.
Millwall are expected to be without a trio of injury absentees for this contest in Ryan Leonard, Connor Mahoney and Arsenal loanee Dan Ballard, but there is hope over Jed Wallace amid his contract saga.
Maikel Kieftenbeld and Mason Bennett are also thought to have strong chances of returning in time for the third round clash, with the latter potentially pushing for a spot in the final third ahead of Sheyi Ojo.
Bradshaw and Afobe will aim to resume their partnership up top after finding the back of the net against Bristol City, but the potential return of Wallace could break up that attacking duo.
Meanwhile, Palace have lost three players to Africa Cup of Nations duty in Wilfried Zaha, Jordan Ayew and Cheikhou Kouyate, but Jeffrey Schlupp was not called up to the Ghana squad.
It remains to be seen if star midfielder Conor Gallagher will recover from illness in time to take part, while James McArthur‘s thigh injury could keep him out once again.
Olise and Eberechi Eze should benefit from the absences of some key Palace attackers this weekend, and there should also be scope for Jack Butland and Jairo Riedewald to return to Vieira’s first XI.
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Millwall possible starting lineup:
Long; Pearce, Cooper, Hutchinson; McNamara, Saville, Evans, Malone; J. Wallace, Ojo; Bradshaw
Crystal Palace possible starting lineup:
Butland; Kelly, Tomkins, Guehi, Mitchell; Hughes, Riedewald, Eze; Olise, Mateta, Edouard