The manager spoke to the press via Zoom on Thursday as Gills prepare to take on Pompey.
Steve Evans is expecting a positive response from his players at Fratton Park on Saturday after Tuesday’s frustrating loss to AFC Wimbledon, and has called on his side to “express themselves without fear.”
Games don’t come much tougher than this weekend’s Sky Bet League One showdown with Portsmouth. The promotion-chasing south coast side sit fourth in the table but Evans, speaking with local media via zoom ahead of the game, is looking forward to the challenge and is confident that his team can beat anyone on their day.
“Callum Slattery is going to be out for three weeks after this weekend. He has bruised ligaments from a rolled ankle. There was no one near him, when you look back at the footage; he’s on his own in the middle of the pitch.
“He’s a young man whose come in and made a real difference to us. We worked really hard to get him up to speed in terms of match fitness and he was just maturing nicely. He is a loss to us.
“If Dominic Samuel can come back mid to late April it will be a bonus for us.
“The rest are available to be selected; we have knocks, bruises and niggles but we will be ready for Saturday.”
A settled back four
“They have been good, haven’t they? Ryan Jackson is getting back to the player we have seen in parts of the season and is maturing in terms of performances. Connor Ogilvie is simply back to the form he was in which created all the interest around him.
“The young Jack Tucker is coming back to a lot of form. All young players have a dip in their career, and young Jack was subject to that. As an experienced manager, if the player has that ability you stick with them. If you come through that period with them, then you both get the reward. I am sure he will have a wonderful career.”
“We will go there and be expressive and play without fear. Fratton Park is a wonderful place; if you don’t want to go and play there then you are not a football person. It’s a classic stadium and for atmosphere it’s probably the best in the league.
“I love going to Fratton Park, when you go there you have your away supporters behind you and 18,000 Pompey fans singing. That’s the only thing missing for me.
“Going away to Pompey is always a great day because it is a true football ground with true football people.
“They have good players and an experienced manager (Kenny Jackett) with a great number two in Joe Gallen. It will be a tough day for us but we are looking forward to it.”
“Our aspirations have always been to improve on last year, that’s the real target we have in the dressing room.
“The aim going forward is consistency in performances. If we get that then we will be in the top ten. A lack of consistency in getting results is why we are where we are, and not in the top six. Lack of consistency can cost you a prize. We have a lot of work to do, but I have never questioned this team’s ability to go out and beat any team in League One.”
Captain Kyle Dempsey
“I don’t want a captain on the pitch in this particular season who shouts and bawls, we do enough of that. We wanted someone who went about their business and led the troops in the dressing room and spoke with wisdom and care.
“On Wednesday we had a team meeting about our inconsistencies and before any of us spoke, he spoke to us really well. He is maturing into a fine young man. We will see if that little meeting has worked for the group.
“Gillingham need to keep a player like Kyle Dempsey for a long, long time. Because not only is he a top talent, he is also the type of man that everyone from the supporters to the owner would want at their club.”