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Raynor | "It's a crucial period"

Gills assistant boss taking nothing for granted as Burton prepare to visit Priestfield.

8 January 2021

Paul Raynor said there will be no complacency in the Gills camp when Burton travel to ME7 on Saturday.

Gillingham’s assistant manager Paul Raynor says the Gills are ready for Burton Albion on Saturday, but they will not be taking the challenge lightly.

The Brewers are again under the leadership of former-Dutch international and Premier League legend Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, and the Gills will be wary of visiting players who will be out to impress their new Gaffer.

Hasselbaink, who previously guided Burton to the League Two title in 2015, will be keen to start his new era at the club with a strong performance at MEMS Priestfield Stadium. Burton may be rooted to the bottom of the Sky Bet League One table but Raynor is anticipating a tough fight with a team scrapping for their lives.

Ahead of the clash, Raynor sat down with the local press to discuss the weekend fixture and his admiration for Burton’s new boss, as well as addressing morale, injuries and possible transfer activity.

 

Morale in the camp

“Morale is very high. We were so positive against Plymouth and how we didn’t put the ball in the net God only knows! It was one of those days but we were particularly pleased with the performance.

“If we can string three or four positive results together then we will be sitting pretty. Getting that consistent run going has been the problem this season. We want to be higher and the Club want to be higher. Those play-offs aren’t too far away but we also need to pick up points so the teams below us don’t get too close either. It’s a crucial period.”

 

Incomings and outgoings

“We thought we were close to one or two signings this week but circumstances beyond our control meant that didn’t quite happen. An agent muddied the waters at the last minute which was disappointing; it was agreed and it would have been a good one for us. Then a player turned us down at the last minute having indicated that he wants to fight for his place at his parent club.

“We are working hard to make things happen but what we are not going to do is bring bodies in for the sake of it. We are looking for players who will improve us and play week in, week out.

“Josh Eccles (who returned to parent-club Coventry this week) has done very well for us, he has had enough game time for Coventry to see something in him that they might be able to utilise later in the season. I’m sure he has benefited from his time with us and we wish him all the best, he is a great kid and a real talent!

“Regarding our other loan players, we are still speaking to their parent clubs. We are in dialogue with all of them to see what their thoughts are moving forward. They are all anxious for them to get game time, that is why they are here, but we are mindful that we need to get points as well. They are here to get experience and they have done well. That dialogue will continue into the early part of next week.”

 

Injuries

“It’s great to have Jordan Graham back; it’s given us a massive lift. He was back in the groove against Plymouth and gave everybody a real buzz. He is crucial; his assists and goal ratio this season has been phenomenal. It was a massive miss for us when he was injured for six weeks.

“Stuart O’Keefe has been training with us this week. That has been a big help. His experience has been a boost.

“It is a day-to-day thing with Jacob Mellis, we are managing the injury. We thought it would be season-ending. We were told that if he had a minor procedure then we might be able to get him to the end of the season. He has trained today [Thursday] and we will see what reaction he has. He might be available for the weekend but we will have to see in training tomorrow.

“Dominic Samuel is going to have an operation on his hamstring, which is never good. It’s something similar to what kept Harry Kane out for a number of months. It’s touch and go whether we see him again this season. Another big miss for us. It’s a difficult year but we are taking things on the chin and trying to get on with it.”

 

Burton on Saturday

“The challenge is that there is a new manager coming in and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is a particularly good one. A new manager normally gets the team responding. Jimmy’s been there before and he will know a lot of the guys and what buttons to push.

“He’s an excellent manager and he was a fantastic player, when he walks in the door he will get that response. He did a good job last time he was there and I am sure he will do very well.

“He’s a very knowledgeable guy; very intelligent. I have come across him many times over the years.  I’m sure he will have a positive response.

“We have looked at their squad and the calibre of players he has got at his disposal and it is impressive, there is potential for a good side there. They have good quality players throughout their team, but they have got in a bit of a rut.

“We have analysed what Jimmy has done at his previous clubs so we think we have an idea of what he might do, but there is no definite science on that. We have to look after ourselves, that’s the main thing.

“These are the types of games we should be winning but football is not played on paper.

“We are taking nothing for granted. They will be a wounded animal. There will certainly not be any complacency in our camp.”


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