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Doncaster v Gillingham preview and team news ahead of League 2 match; Neil Harris predicting tough encounter at the Eco Power Stadium

Gillingham manager Neil Harris has cautioned fans not to be fooled by the table ahead of their trip to Doncaster.

The South Yorkshire side made a slow start to the season but followed up their weekend win - the first of their league campaign - with a victory against Everton under-21s in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday.

Neil Harris’ side have won their last two games in League 2 and sit top of the table
Neil Harris’ side have won their last two games in League 2 and sit top of the table

Those results came after a narrow defeat at Wrexham and a goalless draw with Swindon, a sign that Gillingham won’t be in for an easy afternoon at the Eco Power Stadium.

Harris’ men will be high on spirits too, with three straight wins at home and a place at the top of League 2.

Harris said: “Three home wins, strong performances and we deservedly won the games.

“We’re back on the road with another tough one. Doncaster are a good side, anybody that is looking at the league table, whether that’s in my changing room or outside of the changing room, don’t be fooled about Doncaster.

“They have got an experienced manager (Grant McCann), a good manager and they have got some really good players that have played really well in games, we are fully expecting another tough encounter.

“I saw them play against Forest Green last week, a very open and entertaining game that could have gone either way. Grant’s side won it with a bit of luck in the end, with the nature of the goals, but that is league 2 life, we have seen that this year where we haven’t played well in games and won.

“We are fully expecting a side which will have some confidence now.

“We have to be the best that we can be and hit our standards that we have hit in a lot of games, and a lot of halves of football this year, because we have also shown that if we don’t hit those standards it is a tough division.”

The Gills failed to hit their standards last time on the road, losing 2-0 at Grimsby in what was their worst performance of the season.

Harris said: “That first half was really poor and we conceded two goals, last week against Morecambe (in a 2-1 win) we scored two in the first half, gave a poor goal away but could have easily had five or six and showed how good we can be.

“We have to be diligent in studying the opponent but we have to worry about ourselves as well and get it right with my own team. We have seen both ends of the spectrum already and we have to make sure we have consistency and going to Doncaster away, we certainly have to be a lot better than we were at Grimsby.

“We have found ways to win this year in tight games, we have to make sure when we are on top of games we put them to bed when we can, but also in tight games that we fall the right side of the lines and don’t concede like we did against Grimsby or when we dominated Colchester for 65 minutes, we don’t concede a silly goal.”

Grant McCann's Doncaster Rovers bagged their first points of the season last weekend
Grant McCann's Doncaster Rovers bagged their first points of the season last weekend

The Gills have had to be patient on home soil against teams sitting back but may get more room to manoeuvre on away soil.

Harris said: “Away from home it is about managing the game, managing the away fanbase, negate the tempo the opponent might want to try and dictate but then try and go for the juggler at the right times.

“Doncaster have had a couple of good wins and they will want to start well, it is about making sure we match the start and then continue that theme over 90 and grow into the game and ultimately be ruthless and clinical at the right moments.”

Gillingham have injury issues again ahead of the trip north.

Striker Oli Hawkins (heel) has been ruled out as has George Lapslie (hamstring), who came off early in the win over Morecambe, having scored one and helped create another.

Tim Dieng (knee) is on the road to recovery but not there yet but Dom Jefferies (hamstring) was back training on Thursday. This weekend could come too soon, however.

Harris said: “We have had some bad luck with injuries since the start of the season and we are going to be light at the weekend and whether we don’t know it we can fill the bench or not, because we have some players missing.”

Lapslie went off early on Saturday and the injury isn’t thought to be too serious.

“George just gives so much” said Harris. “(It wasn’t just) the goal (on Saturday) but his athleticism, his energy, his aggressive nature of his play, his forward running ability, he gives us so much in the no.10 or out wide, to lose him again is a major blow.

“Dom Jefferies is back in training but this weekend is too soon, he’s just literally joining in, with his first full session on Thursday.

“With a hamstring injury, out for four and a half weeks, just chucking him in at the deep end, that isn’t something I would rule out but I am not the medical department! I am not the one who has to pick up the piece if he breaks down. Dom is getting a lot closer, he is very close.”

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