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Injury forces Gillingham captain Kyle Dempsey out of the Ipswich Town match

Gillingham received a blow before play had even started against Ipswich Town - with news that their captain was having to pull out of the game.

Boss Steve Evans was all set to include Kyle Dempsey in his starting eleven and that’s the way they were shaping up in training during the week. But the player felt a hamstring tighten on Friday to scupper those plans.

Gillingham captain Kyle Dempsey wasn't risked on Saturday Picture: Andy Jones
Gillingham captain Kyle Dempsey wasn't risked on Saturday Picture: Andy Jones

Dempsey reported in on the morning of the game still feeling the muscle injury but agreed to a place on the bench, only to pull out after the warm-up. He hasn’t played since picking up a knee injury against Sheffield Wednesday in mid-November but returned as an unused substitute at MK Dons last week.

He will now be assessed this week as to whether he can be in contention for a place in the side against Burton Albion at Priestfield next Saturday.

Assistant boss Paul Raynor explained: "Just to have him on the bench last week was a real plus for us. Kyle is a massive player for us and complained of some tightness a little bit on Friday. He came in on Saturday and said he didn't think he could risk it. He would have started.

“He felt he could still go on the bench and maybe play some minutes later in the game and then he pulled up in the warm-up and said he didn’t feel right at all. You can’t take risks, we haven't got enough bodies to take risks so unfortunately we had to pull him out and stick young Harvey Lintott on the bench.

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“That was a big blow, psychologically, to lose your captain, even if he was on the bench. He was part of the shape on Friday going into the game and in the team, that was a real blow for the guys because he is a massive player for us and he is a top player in league 1.

“To lose him was a real kick in the teeth and we have had a few in the teeth in the last few weeks.

“Hopefully it is just a bit of tightness and that will go away and we can get him right for next week.”

Raynor wasn’t using that as an excuse for losing the game against Ipswich, however.

He said: “These are the cards we are being dealt with at the moment and it is hard to take but can’t make excuses, we had enough experienced players out there and they were better than us, sometimes you have to take it on the chin.”

Dempsey had to watch the match alongside striker John Akinde, who is also missing with a hamstring strain.

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