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Gillingham hope defender Rhys Bennett will be back for next week's trip to Rotherham United after Covid self-isolation

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Gillingham are ready to welcome back defender Rhys Bennett - once he comes out of his Covid-enforced isolation.

Bennett would have been involved on Saturday - Gills lost 1-0 at home to Portsmouth - but was unable to play because of Covid rules. He had been in contact with someone who had tested positive and was asked to self-isolate.

Rhys Bennett in action for Gillingham against Wigan Athletic Picture: Andy Jones
Rhys Bennett in action for Gillingham against Wigan Athletic Picture: Andy Jones

The absence of the defender was just another for manager Steve Evans to cope with, having been hit with a catalogue of problems in recent weeks.

Centre-back Bennett has been out since picking up a knock in the home FA Cup game against Cheltenham in early November.

Boss Steve Evans explained why his return has been delayed.

The manager said: “He was fit to play but he came into contact with someone who had Covid. He was clear on a PCR test but the law of the land is he has to have 10 days off.

“I was gobsmacked but we have to go with it. He would have been in the squad, for sure. When we left the ground last Tuesday, we were talking about the team (to play Portsmouth on Saturday) and he was going to be in it.”

More on the Gills;

Captain Kyle Dempsey, meanwhile, has had his minor operation delayed by a week because of infection fears after a blood test. That will now take place this Thursday and after that the medical staff will have a clearer idea of when he can return.

The Gills don’t play again until Tuesday, December 7, at Rotherham. There’s a chance others could be fit by then but Evans will be waiting on fitness news.

Dan Adshead went off injured on Saturday after taking a knock and Max Ehmer was struggling too after a late collision but managed to complete the game.

Evans spoke of his latest injuries.

On Adshead, he said: “He got smashed in a challenge, it is his foot. He was very good in spells, one bad bit of play second half when he got caught in two minds, with the ball, but other than they he did a really good job for us.

And commenting on Ehmer’s knock, he said: “He got a heavy challenge on his shoulder, into his neck, should have come off, but he didn’t want to, he said he would stay on and he performed brilliantly right up to the last kick.”

Dan Phillips was absent again, suffering from a hamstring injury. He managed to make it through the midweek league game against Cheltenham but the problem flared up again the day after, ruling him out for the weekend.

“He is out for weeks,” said Evans.

David Tutonda, Alex MacDonald, Ben Reeves and leading scorer Vadaine Oliver remain out.

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