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Match preview: Gillingham v Oxford United

Gillingham will need a season-best performance to claim a win against Oxford United this Saturday, said boss Steve Evans.

Evans rated Oxford highly last season and sees Karl Robinson's side as big challengers for promotion in League 1 again this term.

Gillingham manager Steve Evans is expecting a big test this weekend
Gillingham manager Steve Evans is expecting a big test this weekend

Oxford have had a week off in the league, after their match against Crewe last Saturday was postponed at short-notice because of a positive Covid-19 test in the visiting squad. The Us will pose a big challenge for Evans’ side at Priestfield.

He said: “The one thing they have got is big resources but they spend them very well.

“They have an outstanding squad, a very capable manager, a good football club and we will have to be at our very, very best on Saturday to get something from the game and probably our best of the season to get the three points.

“We have had a really good start to the season and everyone would acknowledge that. It would be a very, very good start if we can get something on Saturday and outstanding if we could win.

“This is new group, the average age is by far the youngest in the Football League, by a long way, it’s not even close. They are young, developing and they are learning. They are here to learn their trade, whether that’s the permanent or loan signings.”

Gillingham will be without Tom O’Connor this weekend, as he is on international duty, while fellow midfielders Kyle Dempsey, Scott Robertson and Matty Willock will be hoping to prove their fitness before the game, having all been out injured.

Evans’ side suffered a midweek defeat to Ipswich Town on Tuesday night in the EFL Trophy but a positive first half and some good individual performances meant some are pushing to be involved on Saturday, such as midfielder Alex MacDonald.

“He had a brilliant half-hour,” said the manager.

“What you have to do is dangle infront of them that if you play well (in the cup) there is a chance you could play (Saturday).

“I was really impressed with Declan Drysdale, we brought him in as a centre back and I think he played centre mid very well. He is still developing and learning and second half at Shrewsbury (last week in the league) he helped us get a point, he was excellent.”

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