Published: 07:02, 27 December 2018
| Updated: 07:04, 27 December 2018
Tom Eaves’ absence from the Gillingham squad is down to injury and nothing else, insisted manager Steve Lovell.
The club’s leading scorer hasn’t played in the last two games, sparking rumours he could be about to exit the club.
Gills chairman Paul Scally recently revealed that the striker was unlikely to sign a new deal, meaning he will be a free agent in the summer and would be free to speak to rival clubs from January.
But Lovell, who was asked if there was anything more to Eaves' omission than injury, said: “It is definitely a thigh injury, Tom is not that type of person, he is an honest and hard working player, a great lad, there is no way he will not want to play, no way in the world.
“He is gutted, devastated he is not playing as we are as a club. He is our top scorer and the league’s top scorer, you don’t want him out of your squad."
Eaves picked up a thigh injury during shooting practice in the build up to the game against Charlton Athletic.
The manager continued: “We don’t want him in the team if he is only 75% fit, that’s no good to him or us.
"We would rather have people who are 100% fit who can run like they did on Boxing Day. As soon as he is ready, we will see where we are.”
Lovell had hoped to have Eaves back for the Boxing Day clash with Portsmouth but he’s not prepared to rush the striker.
Speaking after the Portsmouth win, the Gills boss said: “We are looking for Saturday, it all depends. I really don’t want to take any chances.
“If he is not ready then he will be ready for Southend (on New Year’s Day), we will see.
"The boys have done brilliantly and if it means we have got to wait for another week, so be it, to make sure he is 100%.”