Team face tricky challenge at the Pirelli, says Assistant boss.
Gills Assistant Manager Paul Raynor is looking forward to the club’s game at Burton Albion on Saturday.
With last weekend's scheduled game against Charlton being postponed, it meant that Gillingham had a two-week league break to get fit and prepare for the tough test against The Brewers.
Raynor, who has taken charge of training this week, admits just how tough the pre-season was with the lack of games and time spent at Beechings. However, he is in great spirits after a full week's training, with a nearly fit squad.
“I think that we’re nearly there," he said. "I’ve never known anything like it, and we’ve been saying it over the last couple of seasons. It’s been scary the way that it has panned out with the COVID situation, and this was the same. To have about one-and-a-half pre-season games was unbelievable.
“We’ve had a much better week of training, and the games are invaluable, so we’re getting into a good place.”
Gillingham’s opponents on Saturday are currently third in League One, having lost once this season, that being to recently promoted Cambridge United.
The makeover that Burton has gone through over the past nine months has been an impressive one. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink took over with the club sat last in League One, and led them to a comfortable 16th place finish.
It is something that has impressed Raynor, who was full of praise for the man he will be going up against on the touchline this weekend. He knows just how tough of a task Burton will present.
“Jimmy’s a good manager who has done well at every club he has been at. He’s done a great job at Burton, who were dead and buried last year. The transformation has been astonishing, and they’ve started well this year. He’s got them well organised and disciplined, and it will be a tough game.”
Having signed on loan from QPR on deadline day, Charlie Kelman made his Gillingham debut in the 1-0 win against Colchester in the Papa John’s Trophy.
The Gills Assistant Manager has been impressed with what he has seen from the teenage striker, with his hunger and desire to succeed being evident.
“He’s getting there. It was crucial that he got 90 minutes the other day as he’s been in and out of pre-season with QPR. He was desperate to get the minutes under his belt and was still full of running at the end, and he will be a good asset for us.”
The star of the show on Tuesday night was Gillingham utility man Robbie McKenzie. He played at both centre-back and right-back in the win over Colchester.
The 22-year-old was the match-winner courtesy of a fine volley in stoppage time, and his versatility and work rate were once again on full display.
Since coming through the door, he has been a player that the Gills management team knew they could rely on, and Raynor continues to be delighted with all he gives to the cause.
“With Robbie, and we knew from day one when he spoke to Hull City, we became aware of his versatility. He played in the Championship at right-back and centre-half, and he can play in the midfield. The nice thing with Robbie is that he gives you everything and has got some real quality, and he’s a great lad to have around.”