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Premier League side Newcastle United let Gillingham use their training ground ahead of FA Cup match against Sunderland

Gillingham have been given a helping hand by Sunderland’s rivals ahead of their FA Cup meeting this weekend.

The Gills travelled up north on Friday and were allowed use of Newcastle United’s training complex to prepare for Saturday’s first round tie.

Gillingham boss Steve Evans pulled in a favour from Toon manager Steve Bruce - a former Gills player himself - to make use of the impressive Darsley Park facility, which includes indoor pitches.

Saturday's match kicks off at 1pm to avoid clashing with Newcastle's home game against Bournemouth, which gets underway at 3pm.

More on the Gills' FA Cup match;

Gillingham are big underdogs for the match and Evans isn’t expecting Sunderland to be fielding much of a weakened team.

Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson has said as much in his pre-match interviews, well aware that the club has a long history in the competition. They’ve won it twice.

He said: “This club is used to entering the FA Cup in the third round so it has been unusual in the last couple of years to enter it at this early stage, so we need to get through and then again to make sure we are in the third round after Christmas."

While preparations for the match have been first class, the Gills are heading into the game mourning the loss of chairman Paul Scally’s father.

Peter Scally was a regular at Priestfield and the Gills announced the news today.

In a statement, the club said: “We are immensely sad to report that Peter Scally has passed away.

Peter Scally passed away on Friday Picture: Ady Kerry
Peter Scally passed away on Friday Picture: Ady Kerry

“Peter Scally, the father of Chairman Paul Scally, passed away at lunchtime today (Friday) with his family at his bedside.

“On behalf of everyone connected to Gillingham Football Club, we offer our condolences to the family.”

*Gillingham have been drawn away to Bromley in the second round of the Kent Senior Cup. Ties are to be played by mid-December.

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