Published: 06:00, 17 September 2021
Gillingham have a trio of players who are struggling to be involved at the weekend.
Manager Steve Evans says Ryan Jackson, Dan Phillips and John Akinde were all unable to train yesterday (Thursday) because of injuries.
Watford loan player Phillips missed the trip to Burton last week because of suspension while Jackson was also missing because of a knock. Akinde was involved in the 1-1 draw - having missed the previous three league games with an injury - but is again a doubt.
Evans does, at least, have enough senior bodies to fill the squad regardless of their fitness levels. Rob McKenzie is capable of filling in for Jackson, there are plenty of wiling bodies to play in midfield if Phillips can’t make it, while Akinde is third pick for a position upfront.
Speaking ahead of the game, Evans said: “The boys are fresh, we have one or two little knocks, but apart from that we are ready to go.
“You only need to look at the starting team and bench at Burton (last weekend), with seven experienced League 1 footballers on the bench.
“As a manager it is not always about your starting XI, what is behind you (on the substitutes' bench) can win you a game.
“For too many weeks we had kids and those kids will play for Gillingham, but they are simply not ready. The bench last Saturday was excellent and we had numerous different opportunities to change it.”
The Gills are be facing a handy MK Dons side this Saturday, a team sitting fifth in the table with just one defeat from their first seven games. That one defeat was against leaders Sunderland.
“We have to be ready, be respectful and we will have a game plan,” said Evans.
“Our first half performance last weekend at Burton was a special one, against a team who flying under Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink in the league and have dominated a lot of games, but I think we should have been three or four up at half time.”
MK Dons like to play a possession-based game. Last season the Dons scored against the Gills after a 56-pass move - a British record according to the club. They have changed managers since then but the philosophy is the same.
Evans said: “They are open, they are expansive, they are very technical and they are very talented, every manager, every club, every coach has their own identity. It will represent problems at times.
“(Current head coach Liam Manning) has carried on a lot of the good work from Russell Martin (who is now at Swansea). There was some real big investment in the squad at MK Dons over the summer, they have had some real quality arrive.
"Obviously Liam has come in and his brief is almost to carry on, change nothing, he has done that very well, their performances have been commanding. It is a real difficult opponent we face on Saturday.”
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