Published: 06:00, 20 October 2020
| Updated: 10:58, 20 October 2020
Gillingham manager Steve Evans is predicting another tough battle against a familiar foe tonight.
Visitors Portsmouth have had a mixed bag of results since the start of the season and Evans has enjoyed his tussles with their boss Kenny Jackett in the past.
The Gills boss is ready for another and said: “Portsmouth are a class outfit with an experienced manager so it’s a huge task against one of League 1’s big clubs. They have a top squad and it will be a tough game at Priestfield.
“Kenny is a good manager. He is a manager I respect, I have beaten him loads of times, he has beaten me loads of times, there will be a real competitive edge but he is someone I have the highest regard for.
"The manager on Saturday I have the highest regard for. I don’t have the highest regard for managers who phone players and talk about Covid."
Elsewhere in League 1 there has been a public spat between Oxford boss Karl Robinson and Crewe manager David Artell. Their fixture was twice called off over Covid-19 issues in the Crewe camp.
“He is there phoning my players,” Artell said, responding to come of Robinson's comments.
“One of them has never even played for him! He just rang him randomly.
"He is ringing my players on the day of a game. Why are you doing that? I have never heard about it as a player or as a manager. It is ridiculous."
The Gills will be relieved that Ipswich Town's mass Covid testing came back clear, after one of their players Kayden Jackson tested positive. The club had their whole squad and coaching staff tested after Jackson developed symptoms and was isolated. Gillingham are due to head to Portman Road next week.
Gillingham have, so far, avoided any positive Covid problems themselves. Tests on Alex MacDonald and Christian Maghoma in recent weeks have both returned negative results.
The Gills are in the middle of a busy period of games, playing consecutive Tuesday-Saturday fixtures for the next four weeks. It will mean Evans making full use of his squad.
Changes were likely for the midweek clash even before a below-par weekend performance against MK Dons . They will also be assessing injuries and illness in the squad.
“We will look at the lads in training and analyse our opponents before we pick the team,” Evans said.
“Football is all about talent, effort, determination and character. These young players of ours are learning all the time and it’s how we react now.
“We said before Saturday that whatever happens we will utilise the squad. We have Saturday-midweek now for four or five weeks and so we have to react properly. We have to justify why we are playing people in our own minds.
“Portsmouth will be extremely tough.”
Assistant boss Paul Raynor added: “Kenny is a tough nut to crack, he is a very experienced manager, his teams are very difficult to beat with some flare in the forward areas.
“We will be ready, we need a response, they will be hurting form their defeat as well so game on.”
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