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Southampton loan player Tom O'Connor impressed on his return for Gillingham

The performance of Southampton loan player Tom O’Connor was a positive for the Gills on Tuesday.

O’Connor was back in the side after being left out against MK Dons at the weekend following a trip away with the Republic of Ireland under-21 team.

Tom O'Connor chases down Portsmouth's Ryan WilliamsPicture: Barry Goodwin
Tom O'Connor chases down Portsmouth's Ryan WilliamsPicture: Barry Goodwin

Gillingham are easing him back in but assistant manager Paul Raynor knows the 21-year-old is a step ahead of others in some ways having spent last season playing under them.

“I thought Tom O’Connor was exceptionally good,” said Raynor, after Tuesday’s defeat to Portsmouth .

“We had already worked on things for MK Dons so it would have been a little unfair to throw Tommy into the fray but he will benefit from that 90 minutes (against Portsmouth).

“He was very good and his versatility is going to be crucial for us. He can play anywhere down that left hand side and he linked up very well with Connor (Ogilvie). He put in some great crosses from the left side.

“He knows what we are about, what we want from him, he has come back with that in his head already. A lot of the guys are learning how we want to play, on the job so to speak. We will get there, it will take a lot of hard work, a little bit of time but we will get there in the end.”

Gillingham lost 2-0 to Portsmouth on Tuesday night Picture: Barry Goodwin
Gillingham lost 2-0 to Portsmouth on Tuesday night Picture: Barry Goodwin

Gillingham are likely to welcome back skipper Kyle Dempsey this weekend. He was missing on Tuesday with a knock he picked up against MK Dons .

Arsenal loan defender Zech Medley and midfielder Matty Willock were both also missing on Tuesday. Assistant boss Raynor said that was down to team selection.

Raynor said: “It is just numbers with Matty, there is nothing wrong with him. We have a few more bodies in the door.

“Just like last year, when (Ouss) Cisse and (Lee) Hodson missed out quite a bit, it is just numbers. We have 22-23 in the squad and there are a few that will miss out. They were the unfortunate ones to miss out (on Tuesday) and they will come into our thoughts for the weekend.”

More on the Gills;

Gillingham - a work in progress

Management take positives from defeat

Shock departure of long-serving secretary

Gills 0 Portsmouth 2: In pictures

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