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The Shouting Men column with Gillingham's rising star Jack Tucker

I am learning a lot this season, I have come on leaps and bounds from this time last year when I was on loan in a lower league.

I was at Hastings exactly a year ago now and that was in Bostik South, five levels below League 1.

Jack Tucker keeps a tight grip on Peterborough's George Boyd Picture: Ady Kerry
Jack Tucker keeps a tight grip on Peterborough's George Boyd Picture: Ady Kerry

This has all come about very quickly and I have been very fortunate. Back then when I was on loan I couldn’t have imagined myself playing 20 games in a league season.

It is nice to have been able to come on so quickly and I am learning every week, becoming more and more at home playing in League 1 against these much better players. I am enjoying every moment of it.

I went on loan to get some game-time and in the long run that has helped quite a bit, to play men’s football. It might be a lower league but it teaches you what it’s like to play for points, people’s jobs are on the line, rather than playing academy football where it is more about development. It gets you used to the mindset that winning games is the most important thing.

In the summer my future here was up in the air, I was obviously hoping my contract would get extended because I am local, I have been here a long time and I’m very familiar with what goes on here. Anything can happen when the old manager isn’t going to be there the next season.

Thankfully the current management came in pre-season and liked what they saw from the first minute.I wasn’t playing last season so the gaffer didn’t know me. You just have to make a good first impression and that’s what I did, so here I am now.

It has gone a lot better than expected, I always had the self belief that I had what it took to get to this level, but it does take a manager to put his faith in you and keeping you in there, even if you do have the odd bad game. I would like to think I have repaid him and I will continue to do so.

I am signed with Gills and that is my priority and I don’t really listen to too much of that other stuff. I am here to do a job and can hopefully keep putting in good performances to keep playing, because by no means have I got my shirt nailed down.

There are plenty of lads dying to get into the team and that is a good thing, a lot of the boys are coming off the bench and making a really good impact when they do get on so it is down to me to keep my place in that team.

With the boys we have on the bench the manager knows he can put anyone in and they will do just as good a job. We have a good squad here, everyone is in it together, we will always back whoever is playing 100% every week.

There are lads who have played pretty much every league game here and they are not guaranteed their place, the gaffer has made that very clear since he came in.

You have to keep playing well or you will not be playing, that is the way it should be, because if you start getting too comfortable your performances start to go downhill. Everyone is on their toes, making sure they are fully focused.

We were disappointed not to take all three points from the game at Peterborough last Saturday, given the opportunities we created, especially first half.

We would have liked to have taken a lead into half-time, it would have given us something to hold onto. It wasn’t to be but it was about being resilient after that but in the same respect they had a couple of chances to win the game.

We had to be wary of their striker Ivan Toney. We knew if he had a chance he would most likely put it away and in the last seconds he did get in. There was a sigh of relief from myself when I saw that go wide. I should have done better with the header myself. I miss-timed the jump but luckily it didn’t cost us so I was happy with that.

I think before the game we would have taken a point because they are a good side, there is no doubt, they will be around the play-offs come the end of the season, the sort of area we are aspiring to be at.

I have been up against some good strikers, including Premier League, and it has definitely helped my development, learning the things higher players will do. You can’t ever switch off, you need to keep your concentration and one lapse could create a chance.

We know what to expect from Oxford this weekend, they are a good footballing team, we know we will have to be at our absolute best to get three points but we are a team to be feared at the moment, we are playing well, picking up results and we are hard to beat. Hopefully we can claim anther three points this Saturday.

Oxford away was a day to forget for all of us I think, individually and as a team, but something we will learn from.

They are the best we have played against this season but we didn’t get tight enough on them and made it too easy for them.

Obviously we are on a good run of form, we will look to build on it and hopefully get a better result than last time.

We have come on leaps and bounds, we haven’t lost in the league since November and it shows we are becoming hard to beat, away and at home. At home in particular we have been picking up some really good results, and we will look to take another one.


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