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Gillingham play Brentford in the Carabao Cup third round ahead of meeting Northampton Town in League 2 at Priestfield

Gillingham manager Neil Harris admits he’d rather be preparing for Northampton than taking on a Premier League side.

While a Carabao Cup third round match at Brentford will be a chance for the Gills to enjoy themselves tonight (Tuesday) the focus for Harris is on improving their League 2 form, starting with a match against Northampton Town.

Neil Harris preparing his Gillingham side to take on Brentford Picture: KPI
Neil Harris preparing his Gillingham side to take on Brentford Picture: KPI

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The Gills host third-placed Northampton at Priestfield this Saturday but first up is a trip to Brentford and a first-time visit for the club to the London side’s Gtech Community Stadium.

Brentford are 11th in the Premier League and the midweek match will be their last at home before the World Cup in Qatar stops play for the clubs in the top two divisions.

Harris said: “I look forward to seeing a friend of mine, Thomas Frank (the Brentford head coach) and I look forward to going to Brentford’s new stadium.

“It is going to be a tough challenge, we are the underdog, all the expectations are on Brentford. The lads can go and enjoy it. I would rather focus on Northampton next week.”

Gillingham will be seeking to end a run of five games without a win in League 2 when they return to Priestfield on Saturday. They sit 20th in the EFL’s bottom tier.

The Carabao Cup has seen the Gills beat Wimbledon and Exeter City (on penalties) to reach the third round and face a club that have grown massively in recent years. Their debut season in the Premier League last season saw them finish in 13th position.

“We know they are going to be very good,” Harris said. “They have built a fantastic squad, they have built a fantastic football club over the last 15 years with Matthew Benham in charge.

“Their recruitment has been outstanding, them and Brighton, the way they have built their football clubs from the doldrums, it gives us all hope that we could do the same.

“They have got wonderful players, it is a great opportunity for us to take the shackles off and go and play.

“That was the biggest thing for me at half-time (on Saturday against AFC Fylde). I hoped the goal would give us a little confidence and belief that was missing, that little ability and confidence to step forward with the ball rather than turn around and go backwards.

"I thought the goal gave us that, maybe too much, because we went forward too quickly and turned it over. Tuesday is an opportunity for my players to go out and express themselves.

“We will have to be at our best without the ball and we will have to hope for a little luck and when we do have the ball, we will have to make sure we look after it better than we did in the second half (against Fylde).”

Gillingham will be well backed in West London. An additional 561 tickets were issued to the club after the initial allocation of 1,400 seats were quickly snapped up by eager supporters.

Harris said: “The fans can get to enjoy it and support the team, go to a new stadium, not far, we have sold a lot of tickets.

“It’s brilliant and thanks to the fans that travelled (to Fylde) as always, it was a trek, it took us a while on Friday, they have seen their team compete in the FA Cup and over the years notoriously as a club that has not always been the case, mentally my players got it right, the fans that travelled appreciated that as much as we appreciated them coming.

“We will now enjoy going to Brentford, enjoy the challenge of trying to stop a top-10 Premier League side but our focus has to be on the league and Northampton.”

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