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Gillingham set to take on Wigan Athletic in League 1 with Steve Lovell still in caretaker charge


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Steve Lovell will take the reins again this weekend as Gillingham tackle a team on a title charge.

The Gills head to second placed Wigan Athletic where few will give them much chance of success. The Latics are one point off the top of League 1 with four games in hand over current leaders Wycombe Wanderers.

Steve Lovell has continued to take training at Gillingham this week Picture: KPI
Steve Lovell has continued to take training at Gillingham this week Picture: KPI

Gillingham have gone three months without any kind of win and are second from bottom in the table. Lovell is managing the side in a caretaker capacity as the Gills look to thrash out a deal with Bromley for their manager Andy Woodman.

Even if a deal is struck now, it’s likely that Lovell will remain in charge for the weekend trip, with a game-plan already in place about how best to tackle the league’s big-guns.

“Until I am told otherwise I will carry on,” said Lovell, who took charge last weekend as the Gills were beaten with two late goals by Burton Albion.

“All I can do is do the job I have been asked to. What the future holds, I don’t know. I am enjoying my time here and working hard for the chairman and the club. The chairman has been great and is letting me get on with it.”

Wigan’s last defeat was in October - the same month as Gills’ last victory - as they have really hit form over the winter.

“I think Wigan will win the league,” said Lovell, a statement few would disagree with.

"They are the best team in the league, with games in hand and their squad is very strong.

They are a settled side and we know their strengths but we need to go and be positive.

“Nobody will be expecting us to get a result other than those people inside Priestfield.” You can get 9/1 on a Gills victory this Saturday but Lovell secured some unexpected wins during his last caretaker stint, enjoying success at Peterborough and Rotherham before being handed the position permanently back in 2017.

Lovell admits it will be a “tough ask” for the Gills to secure their safety in League 1, now nine points adrift inside the relegation zone with the division's second worst goal difference. They have also only won three games this season.

Lovell insists it’s been another positive week on the training ground, however. Chairman Paul Scally has said a cloud had been lifted from the squad following the departure of former boss Steve Evans.

The caretaker boss said: “It is massive (the gap) but as long as the points are there to be won and the players are there to work hard for us and have a go then we have a chance, but we have to start not conceding goals like we did (last Saturday) and like they have done all season.

"We have tried to instil in them the confidence that they are a good team and I think they have taken a lot out of that and taken it on board, they have been brilliant, they are buzzing and enjoying the football and the way we try and play and it is the only way I know.

"Wigan have signed a couple of decent players again and have a very good squad, they play a certain way and we will be set up to address that but we know the way we want to play."

There is good news on the injury front. Both Stuart O’Keefe and Robbie McKenzie went off with knocks last Saturday but both trained on Thursday. Dan Phillips has another game to serve of his suspension.

O’Keefe spoke to the press on Thursday and said he is fit and ready to go, insisting the “pressure is on them” as they head to a side riding high in the table.

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