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Gillingham manager Neil Harris insists his players are good enough for League 2 football

Gillingham manager Neil Harris still believes his players are good enough.

The Gills have won just twice in the league all season but Harris has seen enough of them in training to know they have the quality for League 2 football. Producing it on matchday is another matter, however.

Gillingham boss Neil Harris is backing his players to deliver in League 2. Picture: KPI
Gillingham boss Neil Harris is backing his players to deliver in League 2. Picture: KPI

“You’re always learning about levels and what makes players tick,” said Harris. “Orient were a really good team but they were no better than us for 78 minutes. A moment’s confidence from Paul Smyth, takes on two players, sticks it in the bottom corner - have I got a player doing that at the moment? I can’t see it.

“Have I got players I think can do it? I think I have, that’s why I signed them.

“I’m sitting there the same as the fans, thinking I’ve seen enough in players to know there’s some ability in them. I want to see more as well as I’m the manager.

“I see it on the training pitch but don’t be a good trainer and then not a good player on a Saturday afternoon. I’ve seen a lot of them over the years as well and they only go one way.

“To go back to my initial point, how I left it with the players. Nearly men don’t have long careers in the game. They train well every day, other than not competing very well in certain parts of the game - Tranmere and Mansfield spring to mind - we’ve competed in every game, whether that’s tactically or physically so I’ve got no concerns on that.

“But don’t be nearly men by falling short of confidence or going that extra yard on the training pitch.”

Harris is keen for a change in fortune for his Gillingham team, not least as opposition managers continue to give praise to his troops.

But praise doesn’t equal points and Harris is sick of hearing the same thing.

“Are we a million miles away?” he questioned. “Every team we play against, every manager says the same things, ‘you’re alright, you’re not bad, I don’t know how you haven’t got more points’.

“Every fan comes to the game and says we’re not creating 10 clear-cut chances but we don’t give much away. But both boxes are killing us. If we can’t keep a clean sheet at one end, you’ve got to score at the other.”

Harris also believes the Covid pandemic has changed the shape of football.

That’s the verdict of Harris who believes having the option to use five substitutes in the Football League this season has given a different dynamic to matches.

“The game’s changed in the last two or three years,” stated Harris.

“Covid’s changed the game with the pace of the game, but also we’ve got five subs we can make.

“Very few times at this football club I’ve had five subs I can put on the pitch that I can trust to affect the game.

“Did the subs do enough (at Doncaster)? A couple did, a couple maybe not. You have to get the balance between putting too many subs on and disrupting the flow of the game but also you want to give people an opportunity and fresh legs.

“Getting players back fit and keeping them fit will be key for us moving forward.”

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