Gills Assistant Manager says the players are refreshed and ready to do battle against Charlton at ME7.
Paul Raynor is fully aware of the dangers Charlton will possess on Saturday in the Sky Bet League One local derby but he is confident his team can match the South London side, saying ‘it’s game on!’
Gillingham’s assistant manager said ahead of the highly-anticipated fixture: “Charlton is one of the matches that you look out for when the fixtures are released. They are a big club.
“We have watched a number of their games on video and managed to get a scout to their last couple of games, so we have a bit of knowledge. Lee Bowyer has done a fantastic job. He is a good guy and we get on well with him. He shows so much passion on the sidelines. They have some fantastic players and have a big budget for this division. We’re looking forward to pitting our wits against a very good team.
“Our players will be able to raise their game. We have seen it in the intensity in their training this week. They are looking forward to this and have been talking about the opposition. It’s a big game. Our guys thrive on these big games and they look forward to them.”
Gillingham’s fortunes seemed to have turned after victories over Crewe and Woking followed by an impressive display against Arsenal’s U21s, which saw them qualify for the next round of the Papa John’s Trophy. Gillingham had previously suffered frustration after losing five consecutive matches, despite putting in some strong performances.
Raynor said: “It was massive to get that win away at Crewe. We took some confidence from that. That gave everybody a lift.
“The FA Cup match against Woking was also massive for us. The boys really responded. It would have been easy for them to get their heads down when they went 2-0 down but they showed their character. We played some really good stuff in that second half. Then some of the guys on the fringes really came to the fore against Arsenal, so it was a really positive week.”
The Charlton fixture will also mark the first game where five substitutes will be permitted in a match, something the Gillingham management team were against.
Raynor said: “We struggle to have six or seven subs on the bench anyway, I think this rule does help the bigger clubs who have the bigger squads. It can lead to possibility ten substitutions which could result in a lot of extra time at the end of the game. But it is what it is and we will deal with it. We will try and make it a benefit that helps us as well. Some of the younger players can get some more game time so it will give people an opportunity.”
Raynor hopes his squad will come back fresher after last weekend’s game with Lincoln was postponed, and he is keen for his Gills team to continue their good run of results.
He said: “The boys have looked sharp in training this week after we gave them the weekend off. Since coming back in on Monday they have looked really fresh and really bubbly. There has been a lot of banter. If you walk past the dressing room you can hear them being really chirpy, but now we are looking forward to an important game. They are ready to go.”