Published: 18:00, 10 October 2020
| Updated: 18:31, 10 October 2020
Gillingham boss Steve Evans believes he’s got the measure of midfielder Jacob Mellis.
The 29-year-old was kicked out of Chelsea when he was younger, after setting off a smoke grenade at the club’s training ground, and has made headlines for incidents off the pitch since.
But Evans has got Mellis ticking before, during their time together at Mansfield, and hopes the midfielder can shine at Gillingham having signed him for free in the summer. The Gills boss was thrilled to see him on the scoresheet with a sweet strike against Oxford United on Saturday.
“His goal was special,” Evans said.
“He has got all of that in his locker and when we get him fit he is a top, top talent. He shouldn’t be playing in League 1 but his off the pitch hasn’t always been good at times.
“He hasn’t lived properly, but we hope we have him living properly because he knows this is his last chance. He was wonderful for me at Mansfield and had I stayed he would have been top end of League 1 or in the Championship by now. It didn’t happen.
“We need to keep him living properly. He is a great kid. If we can keep him focussed. From 10 minutes in to 10 minutes from time he was outstanding (against Oxford).”
Mellis was released by Bolton Wanderers in the summer, having only started one league game.
The player has previously played for England up to the under-19s. Chelsea paid £1m for him from Sheffield United as a kid. He was a regular in the reserves at Stamford Bridge but has ended up dropping down the leagues.
Saturday’s goal, a curling effort on the half-volley from the edge of the box, shows his class. Evans believes he knows how to manage him.
He said: “For whatever reason, Bolton chose to sign him and then they never played the kid.
“With Jacob Mellis you have to be fatherly like, love him, tell him off, praise him, you have to go through all emotions with Jacob. If he steps out of line too often you leave it in no uncertain terms that he won’t be around. He knows the benchmarks for me.
“He was stunning at Mansfield, I left and he continued to be like that for a few weeks and then it went. We will keep working hard with the likes of Jacob.”
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