Millwall boss Neil Harris admits he doesn’t expect Tim Cahill to return to the club next season but has left the option ‘open’ for the Caltex Socceroos legend.
After leaving Melbourne City in December, Cahill re-joined Millwall in January on a short-term deal through to the end of the 2017/18 campaign.
He previously spent six years at the club between 1998-2004, making more than 250 appearances for the club and guiding them to the 2004 FA Cup Final.
Cahill returned to the Den in a bid to earn more playing time ahead of a potential fourth FIFA World Cup campaign with the Socceroos in Russia.
The 38-year-old made 10 appearances off the bench for the Lions but amassed just 63 minutes on the pitch in his return.
And while his on-field contribution was limited, Harris paid tribute to Cahill’s commitment and professionalism during his stint with the club.
"When Timmy came in, it was his desire to come back and play for the club and for me, what got him here in the first place," Harris told millwallfc.co.uk.
"It certainly wasn't a financial gain for him, that's for sure. He came in with no airs, no graces and no promises from him to me or me to him about anything other than this season.
"His goal was always to realise a dream of coming back to play for Millwall, to come and work with me and Dave Livermore and to help us move forward as a club, but also for him to get himself to the World Cup in great physical condition.
"Whether that was through minutes in the first team, in the 23s, in training games, whatever it was, to help him evolve as well. He's certainly done the first part by helping us move forward. We thank him for that.”
Cahill was included in Bert van Marwijk’s initial 32-man squad for June’s World Cup, though that will be cut down to 26-27 players next week.
Harris believes the veteran striker should be on the plane to Russia given his experience and what he brings to the dressing room.
He added that any potential discussion on Cahill’s future at Millwall would take place after the World Cup.
"Secondly, is he going to get to the World Cup? Time will tell. If I was the Australian manager, he'd be the first name in the squad list because of what he brings off the pitch as well as on it,” Harris said.
"How we've left it is that he's got a World Cup to hopefully go and prepare for and then he's got to think about what the bigger picture holds for him. What we have to remember is that his family are from Australia, live in New York and he's in London. That's not an easy relationship to have.
"We've left it open - do I expect to see Tim Cahill come back and play for us next year? I'll be surprised, I've got to be honest. But I would never rule anything out. Our relationship is really strong, I've loved having him here. Will he be back in the future working? That's a possibility as well.
"What I do know with Tim is that he is in great physical condition - top, top shape. He's an excellent character in the dressing room and has a lot to offer in football around the world. Whether he wants to go and play 90 minutes every week or whether he wants to be part of a group where he can have an input as an impact sub or in the dressing room then he'll have a lot to offer at various clubs around the world as well.
"It's an ongoing conversation, but probably not one that's going to take place between me and Timmy until well after the World Cup."
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