Having returned from injury, Gills vice-captain is hoping a positive result at Charlton will present an opportunity to get closer to the top six.
After battling back from the treatment room, Stuart O’Keefe says he has returned stronger and more determined than ever.
The midfielder suffered a serious leg injury early in the season and some feared he wouldn’t be back on the pitch before the end the campaign. O’Keefe, however, returned ahead of schedule and hasn’t looked out of place since being back in action. Not content with just taking part, he now has his sights set on a victory and three points against Charlton on Saturday in Sky Bet League One.
Speaking with local media ahead of Gillingham’s trip to The Valley, he said: “My injury happened at such an early stage in the season. When you hear ‘leg break and ankle damage’, you fear the worst. It’s probably the most serious injury I have had in my career but these things happen in football. You have to be mentally strong, prepared and professional. You have to overcome the hurdles or they can get the better of you.
“It was all about getting better as early and as fit as I could. The fitness team at Gillingham were great; it’s as much credit to them as it is to me that I have come back as early as I have. It’s more of a mental battle than a physical one. I’ve been at every game and tried to have an input to help the boys. You have to take it day by day, do it right, get fit and do everything the professionals tell you. I’m back now, ready to go and champing at the bit.”
After winning that particular fight, the 29-year-old vice captain, who has tasted promotion from the Championship with Crystal Palace, is eyeing his next challenge, Charlton away.
He said: “The Valley is one of the best places to go and play football, in any league. For us to go there on Saturday in a local derby, and yes it may have been a bit tastier if there were fans there, we need put our emphasis on the game. Make no mistake about it, we are going there for three points.
“Geographically, it is a close game for us. If the fans were there it would be a fantastic atmosphere, so we need to make sure we don’t disappoint the supporters at home. It’s time to build some consistency and get some positive results, it only takes a few wins and you can jump a lot of places. We need to start climbing that table; there are plenty of games left, but we need to make a move.”