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Gillingham v Charlton preview and team news – Head coach Stephen Clemence looks ahead to FA Cup second round match at Priestfield on Saturday

Head coach Stephen Clemence knows his team will have to up their game to pull off a cup shock this Saturday.

His team beat Wimbledon last time out, a 1-0 win at Priestfield in a game where the Gills weren’t at their best, and they face a much sterner test this weekend against an improving League 1 Charlton side in the FA Cup.

Gillingham head coach Stephen Clemence is looking forward to the cup challenge against Charlton Picture: Barry Goodwin
Gillingham head coach Stephen Clemence is looking forward to the cup challenge against Charlton Picture: Barry Goodwin

More: How Clemence kept the players switched on with the lights off

Clemence said: “If you are going to beat a team from the higher division you have to play at the top of your game and the boys will have to be seven, eight or nine out of 10 to get a result, there is no doubt about it.

“They will be the favourites coming into it, they have good players, so have we, and if we turn up we will give them a good game, that will be the aim.

“It is a fantastic occasion, it’s the FA Cup where you are looking forward to getting through to the next round where you know all the big boys come in.

“There will be many players in the dressing room that want to get through because they might have a chance to go and play at a top Premier League or Championship stadium, that is what you want to do, as you grow up as a child it’s what you want to do.

“I grew up wanting to play at Wembley and Anfield and White Hart Lane, these boys will be no different, this is the opportunity but you do have to beat opponents along the way from a higher division.

“It will be a very tough game but if we can get through it who knows where we can go in the next round?

“Charlton are a top half League 1 team at the moment, on a good run of form themselves since the new manager (Michael Appleton) has gone in, it will be a difficult game but as a player it’s one you should be relishing, taking on an opponent from the higher division.”

Charlton’s leading scorer Alfie May - with 17 goals this season including two to help the London side see off Cray Valley 6-1 in a first-round replay - will be the one to watch, but not the only one, said the head coach.

“He (May) is a good player,” said Clemence. “He has scored a number of goals again this season, that is what he does, he is a busy player who can find the back of the net and is one of the players we have to keep an eye on.

“They also have Corey Taylor on the left side as well and I had him at Aston Villa when I was there, he was playing in the under-21 side at the time and you could see he was going to go on and be a good player, he is doing well for them.

“They have a number of players we need to be aware of and like any team we play against the lads will be prepared, they will know what they are coming up against, then we have to make sure we implement our game on them and give them some problems as well.”

The Gills have a number of former Charlton players in their ranks, including Jonny Williams, Macaulay Bonne and George Lapslie.

Clemence said: “It is always nice taking on your old employer and the lads will be looking forward to the game. We will have to see who plays, if they are in the starting line-up they will be looking forward to it.

“I am confident in the boys but you always have to respect the opposition and we are playing a team from then division above, who have a good manager who is very experienced, has done well in the past and is doing well now.

“We expect it to be a tough, tough game, we need our fans right behind us, to be that 12th man to really make it a difficult place for Charlton to play and that will be better for us as a team.”

Huddersfield loan man Connor Mahoney is available to play, confirmed Clemence, while Robbie McKenzie is fit and pushing to be involved.

Oli Hawkins is also progressing well as he looks to make a first appearance, although talks over how to get him back towards match fitness are ongoing after not featuring since pre-season.

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