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Gills' brush with England's World Cup heroes

By Luke Cawdell

England’s World Cup stars should be an inspiration to others says Gillingham boss Steve Lovell.

Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and defender Harry Maguire have taken their opportunity on the world stage this summer, just a few years after battling against the Gills in football’s lower leagues.

Adam Barrett in action up against Harry Maguire.Sheffield Utd versus Gillingham.Sky Bet League 1.Bramall Lane, SheffieldPicture: Barry Goodwin FM2902842 (2964084)
Adam Barrett in action up against Harry Maguire.Sheffield Utd versus Gillingham.Sky Bet League 1.Bramall Lane, SheffieldPicture: Barry Goodwin FM2902842 (2964084)

Lovell said: “There could be other Maguires and Pickfords out there but because they are not given an opportunity to prove themselves they are still out there.

“I have signed a few boys in the summer and they haven’t really done anything at any level but I know they are good players, they just need to be given a chance.

“With the England boys, it has worked and they have become part of a good group of footballers.”

Craig Fagan is marked in the box, Carlisle keeper Jordan Pickford.Carlisle United versus Gillingham.Sky Bet League 1.Carlisle Utd FC, Carlisle.Picture: Barry Goodwin FM3028690 (2964187)
Craig Fagan is marked in the box, Carlisle keeper Jordan Pickford.Carlisle United versus Gillingham.Sky Bet League 1.Carlisle Utd FC, Carlisle.Picture: Barry Goodwin FM3028690 (2964187)

Pickford was playing in goal for Carlisle when the Gills made the trip to Cumbria back in February 2014. Gillingham won the game 2-1.

Maguire, like Pickford, has become a household name thanks to his efforts in Russia but he gifted Danny Kedwell a goal after a weak backpass when the Gills played Sheffield United in 2013.

Star midfielder Dele Alli is another to have come up against the Gills on several occasions, with MK Dons.

Captain Doug Loft up against Dele Alli (14).Gillingham versus MK Dons.Sky Bet League 1Gillingham FC, Priestfield, Gillingham.Picture: Barry Goodwin FM3651081 (2964318)
Captain Doug Loft up against Dele Alli (14).Gillingham versus MK Dons.Sky Bet League 1Gillingham FC, Priestfield, Gillingham.Picture: Barry Goodwin FM3651081 (2964318)

Those players have excelled in recent years, becoming part of Gareth Southgate’s new-look England side.

Like most, Lovell has been impressed with the way Southgate has handled the country’s top football job, saying: "They have got respect for him, which is massive. He has got a plan and his way of playing and he sticks to it, it seems to me the players understand their roles and responsibilities on the field which is the most important thing.”

Lovell might be Welsh but speaking before Wednesday's semi-final clash with Croatia, he said he was looking forward to it, adding: “It is British football isn’t it? It’s good for our game."

One member of the squad who hasn’t had so much to enjoy is Gillingham's German-born defender Max Ehmer. His country were surprisingly knocked out in the group stage.

“I can’t wait for England to get knocked out,” he joked on twitter.

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