Gaffer previews Shrewsbury visit.
Steve Evans has given his youthful Gills side his ringing endorsement and says he is enjoying the atmosphere created by his players ahead of Saturday’s trip to Shrewsbury Town.
The team travel to Shropshire hoping to achieve their third successive league win, and the boss is delighted with how his new look youthful side have adapted to each other so quickly.
He said: “We’ve put this young dressing room together and I’m really surprised and pleased with how they’ve gelled off the pitch. What comes with youth is energy. No one’s shy and no one’s nervous!
“The kids come in with smiles and desire. We are having to tell them training is finished; they’re always wanting to do more. We’re trying to protect them a little bit and save some of their energy.
“Every day in my office, which is above the changing room by a couple of floors, I hear the laughter, the crying and the banter. It is pure youth and energy. They might not feel the same way as me, but I’m loving every minute of it. They are a credit to their parents. If they were my sons, I would be proud of them all!”
Two new additions to that group are the loan signings of Coventry City’s Declan Drysdale and returning player Tom O’Connor from Southampton.
“Those two bring a real balance to the squad,” said Evans. “Declan is a young man that people say is a centre-half but we played him in a central-holding midfield role in Tuesday’s friendly with Peterborough. He was the best player on the pitch in the second half. Mark Robins and myself chatted long and hard about where he could play. He can play in the midfield but he is also a strong commanding centre-half and he’s able to have a presence and get his foot on the ball and play.
“Young Tommy was outstanding for us last season. He can play in a number of positions on the left side. The two signings embellish what we are about, which is young hungry players and a real variability of where they can play.”
The squad may continue to evolve further as the Gills boss keeps an eye on the right players becoming available, but only if he sees something special.
“I had a meeting with the Chairman and he said, ‘if there’s one that pops up Steve, who is the right one?’ If there is an exciting one there… we’ll do it.
“It’s pretty clear that resources are tight for everyone. Without the player loans from Arsenal, Coventry City, Glasgow Celtic and Southampton, we would not have been able to put the squad together. Every one of those clubs I’ll personally namecheck because they’ve been so helpful.”
The Gills manager is looking to make it three league wins on the spin, but admits his team will need to be at their best to get anything against a determined Shrewsbury side.
He said: “We’ve got to go there on Saturday, focus and concentrate on ourselves with a real knowledge and respect of how our opponents play.
“First and foremost they have a good manager (Sam Ricketts). When the boys were off on Wednesday I had a look at their game when they played Plymouth. It shouldn’t have been a draw.
“Shrewsbury were far the better side, started the game well, finished it well and were largely dominant. They have got good players and a manager who in my opinion has always recruited well.
“He has two of my old boys there who may play upfront, Jason Cummings and he has just signed Clarkey (Leon Clarke). He is a wonderful striker who has graced the highest level. We know before we get on the coach how tough Saturday will be.”
Evans, who again expressed his desire to see Gills fans back in the Rainham End, wants to play his part in bringing better times to the local area, especially in these uncertain times.
“I know that I’m representing a professional football club in Kent,” he said. “I want the professional cricket club to do really well. I want the independent golfers to do really well. Because in these difficult times, we all want to grab onto something successful.”