Ryan Leonard will have a big part to play in Millwall’s Championship run-in after his return to fitness says Gary Rowett.

Millwall’s record signing has been sidelined since early October with a knee injury, but took to the field for the final 13minutes in the 1-1 draw with Fulham at The Den on Wednesday.

A regular under former manager Neil Harris, the 27-year-old has watched the ‘Rowett-Revolution’ from the treatment table as Jayson Molumby, Ben Thompson, Shaun Williams and new signing Ryan Woods all fought for a place in Rowett’s two-man midfield.

With the scores level after Jon Dadi Bodvarsson cancelled out Aleksandar Mitrovic’s early opener, Rowett called upon the former Sheffield United man as Fulham looked in the ascendancy in the second half of the London derby on Wednesday.

“I think he’ll be a really important player,” Rowett said.

“He’s a midfielder that can cover ground really quickly, has great energy, and I think in games like that when you see we haven’t got the energy, certainly when the starting XI have had 60 or 70 minutes, sometimes then it’s that extra impetus we want to have in our locker.  

“He helped us at a difficult period of the game when we were losing a little control,” he said.

“The challenge with 5-2-3 is that if you don’t use the ball well you end up deeper and it’s harder to put the other team under pressure.

“We were in a spell, whether we were a little fatigued, a bit wasteful, or kept attacking to quick, they’d turn us over.

“So we felt we needed to go with a three in midfield.

“He showed what he is

“He’s been out the game for a while, so he’s always going to be a tad rusty.

“He had one where he was caught in possession but that’s always going to happen when you’ve been out the game.

“But he made some good interventions and some good runs for us.”

Millwall travel to Preston on Saturday.

READ: Rowett has his say on Fulham draw

READ: Player Ratings: Millwall 1 Fulham 1