By Charlie Peat
TEN is the magic number for Tom Elliott – and, with Neil Harris guiding him, the Millwall striker is feeling pretty good about reaching his target this term.
Though his 6ft 4in frame and unstinting physicality have given plenty of defenders nightmares over the years, Elliott, by his own admission, has never been an out-and-out goalscorer.
So, his declaration that he intends to get into double figures in terms of goals this season – in the Championship no less, a level at which he has played only a handful of games – could be seen as rather bold.
But the 26-year-old has certainly hit the ground running, with a double in the Lions’ 2-0 Carabao Cup win over Stevenage followed by a close-range effort from the subs bench in the dramatic 4-3 loss to Ipswich in midweek.
Elliott’s 13 goals in all competitions for AFC Wimbledon last term – the first time in his career he has reached double figures for an EFL club – earned him a move to The Den on a free transfer.
And with Harris, a man who notched the best part of 150 goals for Millwall during his playing career, as his boss, the former Cambridge United marksman is already noticing improvements in the box.
“He has been giving me guidance and it’s been great,” said Elliott, who began his career at Leeds and played three second-tier games in the 2006-07 season.
“I’ve never done so many shooting drills in my life before. He’s always joining in, too!
“But that’s a great thing for me because he wants me to put the ball in the back of the net.
“Over my career, that’s the one thing I’ve lacked. I’ve been a presence and I’ve been a threat to defences, but when you start to join the higher leagues you have to add goals to your game and not just throw defenders about.
“You have to be hitting double figures and helping the team, like I did last year, so we will see where I can go.
“The gaffer works with me all the time. We do so many striking sessions and he makes it easier for us to feel comfortable in front of goal when matchday comes. It’s a good set-up.
“For me personally, I just want to get into double figures and take it from there really. I want to play football at this level and I believe I can do that. I would like to have a successful season. and getting to double figures would be a strong start to my time at Millwall.”
After leaving Leeds and working his way up from a spell in Non-League football, Elliott proved he could cut it in League Two, and then League One, at Cambridge and Wimbledon.
The Championship will be his biggest test yet, but it’s fair to assume that opposition defenders won’t relish the task of stopping him and 6ft 2in potential strike partner Steve Morison.
Ahead of the weekend, Elliott had to make do with substitute appearances in the league.
And, while he is eager to earn a starting berth – and perhaps link up with Morison for 90 minutes – he is content to contribute however he can for the time being .
“If the gaffer puts me on the team-sheet I’ll be buzzing, but if he puts me on the bench I will be shouting in his ear to put me on,” he added.
“If me and Morro get the chance to play together, then we will frighten a few defenders for sure. But, whatever it is, coming off of the bench or starting, I’ll be raring to go.”