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Stuart O'Keefe suspended for Gillingham's match with Cheltenham Town in League 1 and Robbie McKenzie a doubt


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Gillingham could have even less players available tonight than they had for the weekend trip to Crewe.

Just 13 senior players made the trip to Crewe and the squad, which has been decimated by injuries, was boosted by the addition of three from the youth team.

Gillingham welcome Cheltenham Town back to Priestfield tonight Picture: Andy Jones
Gillingham welcome Cheltenham Town back to Priestfield tonight Picture: Andy Jones

The Gills could have lost Robbie McKenzie from the group that was fit for selection at the weekend as he limped off, having only just come back from injury. Stand-in skipper Stuart O’Keefe has had a one-game ban confirmed by the FA after a fifth yellow card in the league on Saturday.

It’s a gloomy outlook for the Gills as they prepare to face a Cheltenham Town team tonight who have already dumped them out of the League Cup and the FA Cup.

“We have just been absolutely, dramatically smashed with injuries,” said boss Steve Evans, whose own future is uncertain with Stevenage still hoping he becomes their next manager.

“Nobody can help the pandemic of injuries, not Paul Scally (the Gills chairman) not the man on the moon, only probably the man above, so we are going to kneel at church because he is the only one that can help us at the moment because we are in a pandemic of it.

“I have not had a challenge like it, I have never seen a pandemic of injuries. I have seen key players go out, we have all seen that. We have not seen this amount of players. There are eight who could start for Gillingham, (if they were fit) they play, simple as that.

“It is going to be very tough for us, you just have to look at their bench from (last) Tuesday [when Gills were beaten in the FA Cup replay]. Look at ours, come on, do us a favour. They are bringing on Alfie May and decent top half league 1 players.

“It has been a battle against them, they are a good side and we would love to have some of them but we couldn’t afford them, there are two or three lads at Plymouth we were on the verge of signing but we couldn’t do the deals. That happens, but we will just regroup, understand what we have on Tuesday night and pick a team and be organised and try and beat them.

“The chairman will expect as a minimum that Steve Evans and Paul Raynor (the assistant) get the boys organised as best we can and we fight, that is what we are famous for.”

Evans, when speaking on Saturday, didn’t think any of the current injured players would be back.

Danny Lloyd is out with a hamstring injury and Ben Reeves twisted an ankle.

“You are talking four or five weeks for both,” Evans said. “There is no imminent signs of people coming back. From here we are talking nearer the Christmas period when any of these boys come back.

“Every two or three days there are updates but we are looking a minimum of two or three weeks, it is pretty horrific.”

Kyle Dempsey was due minor surgery on torn cartilage this week while leading scorer Vadaine Oliver is out for between “four to six weeks” after twisting his ankle.

Alex MacDonald is out with a knee injury, Oliver Lee is recovering from a broken toe, David Tutonda has a hamstring strain and Rhys Bennett hasn’t played since picking up a knock in the FA Cup defeat at Cheltenham.

It means the youth players will be involved again tonight.

Evans said: “We had a chuckle at breakfast on Saturday morning (ahead of the Crewe match). It felt like we were taking the school kids for a day out, when you look at how young and fresh they are, but it is what we have got and we are grateful to have them.”

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