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Gillingham captain Gabriel Zakuani winning race to be fit for pre-season training

By Luke Cawdell

Gillingham captain Gabriel Zakuani’s recovery from injury is ahead of schedule.

Zakuani suffered ankle ligament damage in the game against Barnsley in mid-February, ruling him out for the rest of the campaign.

There were fears he would miss the start of next season but the 32-year-old is confident of making it back for pre-season training in July.

Gabriel Zakuani has been out of action since February Picture: Ady Kerry
Gabriel Zakuani has been out of action since February Picture: Ady Kerry

The former DR Congo international said: “I’m starting to run now, which is ahead of schedule, so I am hoping to be fully fit come the start of the season.

“I’m working hard with (physio) Gary Hemens and the rest of the staff to try and get up to pace.

“When I first did it there was a doubt (of making it back before the start of next season). There was a doubt about how it would heal but the healing has gone very well and I feel good in myself.

“I am pushing myself every day and as long as I stick to the programme then I should be back for pre-season.

“I am very positive and I am feeling good. It is about staying on track, and not overdoing it and going backwards.”

Gabriel Zakuani's ankle gets treatment during the match against Barnsley Picture: Ady Kerry
Gabriel Zakuani's ankle gets treatment during the match against Barnsley Picture: Ady Kerry

His injury came after landing awkwardly with Kieffer Moore. The Barnsley striker suffered a head injury in the same incident and he only just made it back before the end of the season.

Gillingham were beaten 4-1 by Barnsley that day. Defeat left them in the bottom four of League 1 and with the skipper ruled out for the season, there were many writing them off.

But the Gills did enough, eventually finishing 13th, five points clear of the drop zone.

“It was looking tricky when I got inured,” said Zakuani. “Looking at the fixtures they did very well. They went through a little patch but got out of it again and they did the job which was the main thing.

“I always knew we had a good squad and that’s the main thing – when people come out of the team like myself, there were others that go in and do a job.”

Zakuani now faces a summer of rehabilitation – but there will still be time for a little R&R.

He said: “I am going to focus more on getting fit and not thinking too much about the partying.

“There will always be a little bit in there, but I need to focus more on getting fit, getting back for the season and getting my place back.

“This is probably the first pre-season I have looked forward to because I want to get back in and amongst the boys.

“I have missed being in the team and just to be around them and get my fitness back and push for next season.”

Third-choice goalkeeper Louie Catherall is leaving the Gills after the club decided against offering him a new contract.

Read more: All the latest sports news in Kent

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