Vadaine Oliver says the squad is raring to go as Gills prepare to welcome promotion hopefuls Charlton to ME7.
Gillingham return to Sky Bet League One action on Saturday when they welcome local rivals Charlton to MEMS Priestfield Stadium. The Addicks make the short journey to Kent where they will find a Gills side who are starting to pick up the points their performances have deserved.
Vadaine Oliver, speaking to the press ahead of the clash, said confidence is high in the camp after wins against Crewe and Woking followed by a good showing against Arsenal’s young guns. The 29-year-old, who scored the winner to put his side in the FA Cup second round, insists his teammates are now even more determined to keep their good form going.
The rangy striker recently topped the charts for most aerial duels won so far this season with an impressive 136, 34 more than second place, and now has lofty ambitions of seeing his side rise up the table.
‘Big V’, looking ahead to a fixture ordinarily contested in a packed stadium, spoke frankly as he tackled questions about the team’s changes in fortune and gave an insight into Gills attacking strengths.
Charlton on Saturday
“We know what they are capable of. They are a good side as they are coming from a league above us. They have done well recently and they are in good form. As long as we are at ‘it’, we know what we are capable of.
“In the last couple of weeks, results haven’t gone our way against the big teams, but performance wise we have been in games. We are all confident going into this one.”
Mixing with the big clubs
“This year it has been the toughest it has been for a long time. You see the calibre of clubs in the league and you think, ’I don’t think they should be at this level’ but it is what it is. I think we are up to the challenge.
“I think we can finish up there, I said that when I signed. We have good quality in this team, a real mix all the way down the park. Everyone is fighting to play. We have a strong squad.”
Getting back on track
“It was a big performance against Crewe. We needed that win; it was massive. John Akinde came on the pitch and did what he is good at. He put himself about and got the goal, which was vital. It lifts us, because we have had a lot performances that have been good but we didn’t have the results to match it. You would sooner have a bad performance and have the win.
“With the win also in the FA Cup it gives you that buzz again. It was nice for me, as a striker, to get the winner.
“You can see in training that everyone is lively. Tre Coyle is on fire at the moment in training. Dominic Samuel is getting goals as well. Jordan Graham is getting assists. The back line looks strong. Everyone is on form and looking bright.
“We’ve been unlucky in recent weeks but we are getting back in form now.”
“We have a good mix of what we offer attacking wise. We have got the likes of Trae who can cut in with his lively feet and get behind defenders. We have got Jordan who also has great feet and great delivery, probably the best in the league.
"Dom can play off the shoulder and be that ‘fox in the box’. We have Big John who can occupy the defenders. All of us have got our ways of affecting the game. It’s vital for the team, we need that. We can’t have one person doing a job and expect them to win you the game. We need that kind of mixture and it works for us.”
When fans return
“It would be a massive boost to see them back. They are like an extra man on the pitch. When the chips are down and things are not going right for you, the fans can give you that extra boost and that lift. It will be great for them because it has been a hard time for everyone, not just around the country but across the world. We want to give fans that boost who will again be able to get back on the terraces and follow their clubs.
“Gills fans are a loud bunch. It can be intimidating to come to Priestfield. When you come to a club and the supporters are loud, it can put you on the back foot.”
“He joined not long after I signed. I had known him previously for a short amount of time. I said to the Gaffer, ‘You have got to sign him, we need him!’ When he came I was buzzing because of his deliveries. I’m thriving off him doing well, it’s a perfect partnership.”
In the air
“I know for a fact that when I am on the pitch, aerially I won’t lose. You have to have that self-belief. If you don’t take that belief into games then you are selling yourself short. I know going into games that unless you put three players around me then I am going to get the better of the opposition that day. It helps the team and gives us that output. I can get the ball out to my teammates like Trae, Dempsey or Jordan and let them do their bit of magic.
“I definitely eye up the opposition's defenders. I can gauge things when they are warming up and look out for who is the weakest of the four. Who am I going to target today? You have to have an eye on your opposition.”