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Gillingham forward Conor Wilkinson is working harder now under boss Steve Lovell

Striker Conor Wilkinson admits he needed to up his game.

Boss Steve Lovell is a big admirer of the 22-year-old but made it clear early on that he wanted more.

Wilkinson has responded, netting his first goal for the Gills in last week’s Checkatrade Trophy game against Reading and following up with a battling display against Bury on Saturday.

Wilkinson said: “Loves has come in and changed it a bit. It is working well. He said to me he wanted me to work hard.

“He didn’t think I was working hard enough and I would probably agree with that sometimes.

“I don’t do the dirty work like (Tom) Eaves and (Josh) Parker and I am trying to get that into my game now.

“It’s about tracking back, to a certain extent and then the little hustle and bustle with the defenders, trying to nudge them when the ball is in the air and making bad balls into good ones.”

Wilkinson may stand at more than six feet but smashing defenders has never been his game but he is adapting.

He said: “I have always been in the No.10 position, with another striker playing off me, so this is kind of a new role. Defenders in this league are quite big, not like the Championship.

"They aren’t that great on the floor so you need to get on the floor when you can, then win the battles in the air.”

Wilkinson’s early involvement for Gills was hampered by a red card on his home debut against Bradford.

He admitted: “I was devastated about that. I missed the next three and it is hard for me to get into the team. I can’t really go to the manager and say ‘can I play?’ because Eavesy and Parker have been on fire. I just have to wait.”

Wilkinson is gradually chipping away, however, and last weekend’s second-half showing will have helped. He and Eaves were crucial in helping turn the game around against Bury.

He said: “I was happy with myself. A point is better than none and the lads are buzzing because we are unbeaten in four (in all competitions).

“We are doing well, winning games and everyone has come together more. I like playing with Eavesy, he tells you things.

“I was with him at Bolton in the reserves for a year or so. We have quite a good relationship and talk in the game and it helps.”

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