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Gillingham manager Steve Evans backs Mikael Ndjoli despite on-loan Bournemouth striker missing two penalties in one game

Striker Mikael Ndjoli missed two penalties at the weekend but Gills boss Steve Evans would be happy to see him take another.

He was as surprised as anyone to see one effort miss the target and another saved on Saturday, during Gillingham’s 3-1 win over Southend.

Gillingham's Mikael Ndjoli hits the outside of the upright with his first spot-kick. Picture: Andy Jones
Gillingham's Mikael Ndjoli hits the outside of the upright with his first spot-kick. Picture: Andy Jones

And Evans was quick to comfort his striker at the end of the match at Priestfield, embracing him on the pitch.

“The kid was in tears,” revealed Evans. “I am a very loving father and a very loving manager to my players. I think they would say that is the case Monday to Friday.

“I reminded him that he would be going home to a beautiful person in his mum, who he is particularly close to, and his sister and his nieces.

“I just said ‘we love you.’ I did tell him he would play at Portsmouth (next weekend) – maybe I jumped the gun there!”

Ndjoli is at the Gills on loan from Bournemouth and has already converted two penalties for the Gills this season, against Newport in the League Cup and Wycombe in the League.

Evans said: “I wouldn’t fret about him taking another one. I know people might say, ‘how can you say that?’ but his penalty taking is normally so deadly.”

Ndjoli is a player Evans was keen to sign, wherever he ended up, having watched him play for Kilmarnock (where he was on loan last season) in the Scottish Premier League during his time out of work.

He said: “Eddie Howe (the Bournemouth manager) rang me up and said they would like this kid to be in League 1 in England. I knew I had two or three options in League 1 and I went up and watched him come off the bench at Ibrox. He had a bit inside him.

“I was told we would have to work with him, he has a lot of development to go, but he has a lot in the locker and we are pleased we brought him in.

“He is still developing, still learning. He will have gone home a little bit disappointed but we have tried our best to re-assure him.

“I worked hard to sign Mika. These kids we signed had multiple options and Gillingham isn’t the first draw when they get told several clubs are after you. I promised his mum I would look after him, I do that to every young player I sign.

“Young Jack Tucker didn’t have the best of days at Oxford last week but I put him on the pitch with a minute to go (against Southend) to show once again we have faith in a kid who I think will certainly play a lot higher than League 1.”

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