6 September 2007
Millwall’s chances of getting their two loan players on longer deals have been boosted, writes Stephen Eighteen...
Arsenal striker Jay Simpson and Spurs midfielder Jamie O'Hara (pictured) impressed manager Willie Donachie in the Lions' 3-2 loss at Swansea on Tuesday night.
Simpson set up Ben May's goal and O'Hara, prior to being sent off, created a first senior goal for his fellow north London youngster.
Simpson has admitted that he would be happy to stay at the Den beyond his January contract and O'Hara should incur only a one-game ban - meaning he has more time to win a longer deal.
Simpson said: "If Arsenal think it is good for my development and they're happy for me to stay longer, then yes, I would like to stay.
"I'm really happy to be here and it's been really good to work with the gaffer. He is a really intelligent man and the way he speaks really appeals to me.
"He doesn't shout. He talks calmly but what he says pierces you. Because of his Scottish accent it is scary as well!
"He speaks slow and calm and tells you to enjoy yourself and that if you make a mistake he tells you not to worry and to get on with it. It's really encouraging.
"On Friday morning when I came in, before I signed he sat me down and showed he's got good ambition. "He has targets for the season and I want to help him reach that - so he played a part in me coming here.
"We haven't got off to the best start but it's a long season and I definitely think we can get into the play-offs, if not higher.
"At Arsenal it gets to a stage where all the players seem to go out and experience first team football but it's good for our development."
The eighteen-year-old grew up in Tottenham and, before he arrived at the Den, already knew Tom Kilbey, the Cheshunt-born sixteen-year-old who made his debut at Swansea, through a family friend.
Simpson became the first Arsenal player to score a hat-trick at the Emirates Stadium when he netted three times in an FA Youth Cup Quarter Final against Cardiff last season, yet he says that opening his Millwall account was more special.
"This is my first goal in first team football so this is my favourite," he said. "To contribute to the first goal and then to put us ahead is something I'm really excited about.
"Jamie came in from the wing, cut inside and I got behind the full back and he slipped me in and I did the rest.
"I've known Jamie and Ryan Smith since I was about ten and everyone has gone out of their way to help me settle in."
Donachie had feared that O'Hara, who is a fortnight into his one-month loan, would be hit with a three-game ban - and subsequently recalled by Spurs - for hauling down Paul Anderson in injury time at the Liberty Stadium.
But the Millwall boss was heartened by a post-match conversation with the ruling official, Mr Penn.
Donachie said: "I went to see the referee and he said that he thought it would just be a one-game ban, which is great news.
"Jamie is a very talented young player and I like him as a lad. I'd like to have him longer but there are a few things we have to consider.
"The first is Spurs' position. If he is going to come in on a longer loan we want him to feel like he is one of our players - not a loan player.
"Jay Simpson is here for three months and is part of the squad but Jamie is a little bit different. He sees himself as a starting player and Spurs wanted him to train with them for two days a week.
"I wasn't happy with that and he didn't train with them, but who knows what they want to do?"
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