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Gillingham boss Steve Evans upset after over handling of Southampton loan player Tom O'Connor's injury while with the Republic of Ireland under-21 team

Boss Steve Evans wants answers from the Republic of Ireland FA after claiming Southampton loanee Tom O'Connor was played despite being injured.

The Gillingham manager says he was gobsmacked to see the player named in the Irish starting XI after being told a day before of a hamstring injury. O’Connor, 21, was replaced at the break in the game against Luxembourg.

Tom O'Connor in action for Gillingham against Sunderland
Tom O'Connor in action for Gillingham against Sunderland

Evans says he asked if the player could return home before the match but his request was declined. O’Connor eventually returned to the club on Thursday and was subsequently ruled out of Gillingham’s game on Saturday because of the injury.

The Gills boss spoke about the issue on the club’s official facebook page prior to their game against Charlton.

He said: “Tommy came back with a hamstring strain and I am really annoyed.

“The kid had the hamstring strain before their game on Wednesday and was still selected to play the first half.

“We made contact with the Irish FA on Friday, no reply, they are either on long term holiday, hiding or on furlough, I don’t know, but it is totally and wholly unacceptable.

“Tommy was in our thoughts (to start on Saturday), he had been doing so well, playing a variety of positions.

“My medical team made me aware on Tuesday that he was feeling his hamstring and I asked if he could be withdrawn from the squad. We were told no, he had to stay, and to say I was gobsmacked when I saw their starting XI would be an understatement.

“We have the data to show the kid was not in a position to sprint, not in a position to get around the pitch, everything he is good at.

“It is nothing to do with him, he is desperate to represent his country and I would have loved to have been good enough to represent my country. I get what is inside Tommy but I don't get what is inside those people above him who have to make those decisions.

“I have often said we need to make decisions for players that the player won’t make for themselves, you have to be strong as a manager. It is totally and wholly unacceptable.”

The Irish FA have been contacted for comment.

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Report: Gillingham 1 Charlton 1

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