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Gillingham head coach Stephen Clemence on background knowledge he has of next League 2 opponents Crewe Alexandra as he provides fitness update on Jonny Williams, Dom Jefferies and Josh Andrews

Head coach Stephen Clemence knows plenty about Gillingham’s next opponents.

The play-off chasing Gills begin a vital League 2 double-header at home to Crewe on Friday, a match which is followed by an Easter Monday journey to Harrogate.

Jonny Williams - the Gillingham midfielder will have a fitness test today on a groin injury he has. Picture: @Julian_KPI
Jonny Williams - the Gillingham midfielder will have a fitness test today on a groin injury he has. Picture: @Julian_KPI

Eighth-placed Gillingham are only outside the play-offs on goal difference while Lee Bell’s team, who are fifth, are six points better off with a game in hand.

Clemence had seen Crewe play earlier in the campaign, prior to replacing Neil Harris at Priestfield in November.

He revealed: “Crewe is actually very close to where I had been living for a number of years.

“I attended quite a number of Crewe games earlier on in the season when I started watching League 1 and League 2 football.

“So, I’ve seen quite a lot of them. But they, obviously, made quite a few changes in January.

Gillingham boss Stephen Clemence. Picture: @Julian_KPI
Gillingham boss Stephen Clemence. Picture: @Julian_KPI

“They have always had a good footballing tradition, they have produced good players over the years and it’s a good football club.

“But it’s about us on Friday. My focus is on how we beat them.”

Clemence has thought about what would be an acceptable points tally from the Gills’ next two games but, for now, his focus is on getting the better of a Crewe team, who beat Gillingham 2-0 in October.

He said: “You think about these things but, to be honest, my focus has to be on ‘What are Crewe going to do against us and how are we going to beat them?’. That has been our full focus this week.

“Myself and my coaching staff have started to put a game-plan together on the training ground and we’re looking forward to trying to get the three points against Crewe. It’ll be a difficult opponent.

Gillingham midfielder Dom Jefferies - remains a few weeks away from a return to action. Picture: Keith Gillard
Gillingham midfielder Dom Jefferies - remains a few weeks away from a return to action. Picture: Keith Gillard

“They have, obviously, had a very good season and play good football - but so do we.

“I expect it to be a very good game. I expect this place to be rocking.

“We have got a lot of people coming. If the supporters could bring more friends, more family and get right behind the boys, and really make this a difficult place for Crewe to come on Friday, that’ll be fantastic. We’re going to need their support.

“We’re going to need the three points.”

Midfielder Jonny Williams is set to have a fitness test today to see if he will be available.

Speaking at yesterday’s pre-match media briefing, Clemence said: “He will be having a fitness test tomorrow. He hasn’t trained today.

“It’s a problem in his groin. It’s not a big problem, he hasn’t got a muscle strain, but it’s something he has had before. We’re trying to leave it as long as possible.

“We’re hoping to have him available. If he’s not, it’ll be an opportunity for somebody else.”

Fellow midfielder Dom Jefferies (thigh) is also a few weeks away from a return to action.

“I don’t expect Dom to be fit until probably the Barrow game,” he confirmed.

“I think he might do some training next week, partial training with the team, but he will be dipped in and out.

“It’ll probably be the week after when he does full training and we will have to see where he’s at fitness-wise.”

But striker Josh Andrews, signed from Birmingham, is making good progress having made his debut for Gillingham as a substitute in their 3-2 victory at Morecambe last weekend.

Clemence said: “I expect him to be involved again on Friday.

“I’d like to think we can up his game-time, should he be needed. But he’s not ready to start a game. I will give you that.

“But he’s looking sharper in training, he’s looking happier around the place, because he has looked a bit miserable at times. I can understand that.

“He has come to a new club, he hasn’t settled with his new team-mates in the sense that he’s not playing football with them - but you can see he’s settled down nicely now.

“He’s got a smile on his face and that’s good to see.

“He’s going to be a good acquisition for this football club - not just this season but going forward, as well.”

Clemence admits two matches in a 72-hour period could mean he needs to utilise the strength-in-depth he has in the squad.

He added: “Thankfully, we have got pretty much everybody there and available.

“There’s, obviously, one or two (unavailable).

“The one thing I remember playing as a player was - two games pretty quickly - it was hard work. The squad might be needed over the Easter period.”

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