Published: 06:00, 24 August 2021
Gillingham boss Steve Evans will prepare the kids again when they return to League Cup action on Tuesday night.
Evans’ priority is the weekend league game at Shrewsbury and even the incentive of a big draw in round three won’t make him take any risks for the game against League 1 rivals Cheltenham Town in the second round cup tie at Priestfield.
Teenage defenders Harvey Lintott and Bailey Akehurst are likely to be called upon while Rhys Bennett, Danny Lloyd and Olly Lee are in line for starts after substitute roles at the weekend.
“We will make changes,” said Gills boss Evans.
“We have got injured players, we could only name six substitutes (on Saturday) and two of them were probably young enough to be my grandsons.
“We are desperately waiting for two or three to come out of the treatment room.”
Evans said on Sunday that none of those injured senior players, Alex MacDonald, John Akinde or Dan Phillips, would be available for the midweek clash.
Young striker Gerald Sithole, who scored against Crawley in the last round, will miss out after isolating with Covid-19.
“He has had more days off than the striking miners in the 80s!” joked Evans.
“He is a real talent and when we get him fully up to speed and he matures a little bit he will be a really good player, same as Bailey and Harvey.
"They are living the dream at the moment but they should have been with the kids playing on a pubic park away at Leyton Orient on Friday.”
Evans would have 22 first team players, including the young pros, if all were fit. David Tutonda returns from suspension but Evans will meet with chairman Paul Scally after the match to see if he can bring in extra personnel. The transfer deadline of August 31 is looming.
Evans said: “I will have a chat with the chairman in midweek to see if we can add to the group. We have to be very selective and we are going to have to get a club like Norwich to have a player playing in League 1 over how much we can pay them.
“We will be ready for Shrewsbury next Saturday and will respect Cheltenham fully, because last season they were stunning in league 2.
“You always have to pick a team that you think can win the game. I went to Crawley (in round one) and I always believed the team I picked would win it, we did and we got through.
“My priority is Saturday, but don’t get me wrong, come 7.45pm on Tuesday we will want to win.”
Gills missed the big teams in round two draw but victory against Cheltenham will put them in the hat with the best teams in the country.
The.Gills reached the third round last season but the fans were absent as they lost at Stoke. Prior to that the supporters had been there to watch West Ham given a run for their money in the FA Cup.
“We would love another night like that,” said Evans, who added: “We still have to make changes, we have to be ready for Shrewsbury next Saturday.”
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