Published: 06:00, 18 February 2020
A massive game awaits the Gills this week.
Gillingham head to Southend knowing a win will leave them just four points off the League 1 play-offs.
The top six has been the club’s aim and on Tuesday they get the chance to take a giant step closer.
It’s a fact not lost on the management team.
Assistant boss Paul Raynor – addressing the press following Saturday’s 2-1 win over Doncaster at a windswept Priestfield – said: “Tuesday is massive. There are only a couple of games that night and if we win we would be four points off the play-offs which would be fantastic, a magnificent achievement for the guys we’ve got.”
Troubled Southend look destined to taste relegation this season. They are 14 points from safety, having won just three league games during the campaign so far.
The Gills beat a sorry looking side 3-1 earlier in the season but they won’t be taken lightly, with former Arsenal and Tottenham defender Sol Campbell now in the manager’s hotseat.
Raynor said: “They need three points, we need three points to really cement our place in and around that play-off spot. It’s massive and we are really looking forward to it.
“They will be scrapping, fighting for their lives. They will be fighting for their careers and for contracts next year, wherever it might be.
“We are not going to just go there and turn them over. We will have to work very hard to make that happen.”
Gillingham are still working with a squad that has little room for injuries. On-loan Southampton midfielder Alfie Jones missed out again at the weekend.
Raynor said: “Let’s hope we have enough fit bodies because there are a lot of tired guys, a lot of players playing with little niggles who perhaps shouldn’t be out there, so credit to them. They keep going and they are enjoying the football.”
On the chances of Jones being available, Raynor said: “Let’s hope he is. He is getting there, hopefully we can get him on the training ground and see how he reacts. Fingers crossed he might be available for Tuesday night.”
It might be a small squad but Raynor is pleased with the quality they have had on the bench since making changes prior to the transfer window closing.
“That has made a big difference,” he said.
“Mika Mandron probably thinks ‘what have I done wrong?!’ He was playing regularly at the start of the (unbeaten) run, but he hasn’t done anything wrong.
“We have just added to the quality we have got with big John (Akinde), Jordan Roberts and Jordan Graham.
“We always thought we needed a bit more fire power and we certainly have that now.
“As long as we make sure we are solid defensively, we are keeping clean sheets and not conceding too many goals, we will always have a chance.”
More by this authorLuke Cawdell