Published: 06:00, 24 September 2021
Steve Evans isn’t surprised it’s taken his team some time to get into their stride.
The Gillingham manager watched the disruption that two Covid enforced breaks did to the fitness levels of his squad. Pre-season games were cancelled and the players started the campaign without being fully up to speed. Injuries haven’t helped the situation either.
Evans’ side picked up a point at home to Charlton on Tuesday, drawing 1-1, and now head to Oxford United this Saturday.
Gills boss Evans said: “I did say at the start of the season it would take eight or nine games.
“Kyle Dempsey is the perfect example, he did hardly any minutes in pre-season, we had to cancel games because the boys were off for 21 days and we got it worse than the whole of the Football League.
“I said it would take seven to nine games. We are just about getting there but we won’t get carried away.
“We got a point (against Charlton) but we are disappointed it should have been three. The 90 minutes deserved three points if you take it in totality.
“You get no respite, we have Oxford and then we go to Cambridge and then we follow it with Wigan who have spent more than the Bank of England.
“We respect it, Wigan have been a top club, been at the top level, won the FA Cup in recent years, I have nothing but respect for every team we play and we know for sure it will be tough at Oxford.”
Midfielder Dan Phillips is missing with an ankle injury while Ryan Jackson and Mustapha Carayol are also set to remain out this Saturday. Stuart O’Keefe returns from suspension after his red card against MK Dons.
It meant Evans has had to bring some of the kids back into the fold. Bailey Akehurst has been called back from a loan at Isthmian Premier Cray Wanderers while striker Gerald Sithole has come off the bench in the last two matches and made an impact.
Evans said: “The chairman would have had no problem signing five players (instead of one) if it fitted in with the same resources.
“It was my decision to go with a smaller squad because of resources. You don’t expect the luck we have had with injuries, to be without Jackson, Phillips, Akinde and Carayol. You don’t expect it but you have to deal with it.”
Gills are 19th in League 1 with seven points from their first eight games.
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