Gaffer previews Southend visit

Gaffer looking forward to Southend cup game.

Gillingham manager Steve Evans says his staff will be challenging the players to be consistent as the squad prepares for the visit of Southend in the Carabao Cup.

The Gills’ last game ended in a 2-2 draw at the Stadium of Light against Sunderland in March, and there have been many changes to the team since then.

Evans says he is happy with the squad he is starting to build and believes that it can improve on last season’s 10th place finish.

He said: “I think without a shadow of a doubt it’s a better squad on paper. We’re a lot younger as you can see and what comes with that at times is inconsistency so we’ve got to challenge the players to be consistent as there’s no doubt we’ve got a lot of ability in the group.

“With no disrespect to the Carabao Cup and Leasing.Com Trophy our main focus will be on Hull [next weekend] but we will be looking to perform well and get the right result over the next two games. We’ve got 16/17 players in the building and hopefully 18/19 by the time Tuesday comes, and everyone will get minutes on the pitch.”

The Gills lost Captain Max Ehmer during the summer leaving the boss with the task of naming a new skipper. Having introduced many new faces to the squad, the gaffer is confident in the leadership he has introduced. However, he has two clear names pinned down for the role.

He said: “I think there’s four or five that have captain material written all over them. I think the two who it will come down to though is Stuart O’Keefe and Kyle Dempsey.

“However, I look around the group and I see some real good players who are certainly captains.”

Saturday’s opponents, Southend United, were relegated from League One last season and have since brought in new manager Mark Molesley.

The Shrimpers will be familiar with the Gills, however, Evans feels that it will be hard to assess all teams until everyone has a string of games.

He said: “Until the competitive action starts you don’t know what you’re going to get. I know enough about the manager who has played against my teams many times and I know that they’ll be hardworking, solid, strong, and positive.

“I have no doubts that Southend will present us with some issues."

The season will be starting in a very unique fashion with back-to-back cup games. Gillingham will face Crawley Town in the Leasing.Com Trophy on Tuesday before they face Hull in league action.

Evans has his eyes set on what would be an eye-grabbing season opener but feels the cup games will continue to allow his team to improve their sharpness.

“It’s a different experience as I found in a couple of pre-season games," he added. "But it's competitive football which will always add something to it.

“Whoever we pick we want them to go out, enjoy it, express themselves and perform.

“We will miss our supporters. They play such a passionate part here and we look forward to the day that they’re back with us.”