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Harris on Millwall friendly

Gills boss reflects on game against Millwall.

16 July 2023


Harris on Millwall friendly

Gills boss reflects on game against Millwall.

16 July 2023

Neil Harris addresses the local media following the pre-season defeat to Millwall at Priestfield.

Gills boss Neil Harris said it has been "a really good week" for his side despite suffering a 2-0 defeat at home to Millwall on Saturday.

The Lions scored a goal in either half, with Kevin Nisbet opening the scoring from the penalty spot before Aidomo Emakhu clinched the win for the visitors with a couple of minutes remaining.

Despite the defeat, Harris was pleased with the work the Gills have put in over the past week. Following a memorable trip to Como that ended with a win over the Serie B outfit, he is hoping to build upon a positive start to pre-season.


The past seven days…

Not just today, but if I was to look at last Saturday to this Saturday. Looking at Dover, Como and Millwall - it was a brilliant week, a brilliant seven days. I said to the players do not look at today’s poor 45 minutes in isolation, but to look at the week, and we’ve had a brilliant week.

A tough week with the travelling and the heat in Como, but a really good week. I’m really pleased.


Injury updates…

[On Oli Hawkins] - It’s a heel injury, a real pre-season injury. He’s done nothing wrong. It’s just one of those pre-season things that he needs to come off for a week. Really standard. It’s a week to ten days. He’s going to have an injection on Monday to try and speed up the healing process and to give him a bit more comfort, and he’ll be back on the training pitch.

He won’t play against Charlton and is very unlikely against Dartford.

[On Lewis Walker] - Lewis Walker will be out for ten to twelve weeks. He has exactly the same injury on his other knee. A real shame for him because he’s come back strong. Physically, he’s in the best shape of his life.

It’s a contact injury at Dover, which he did after 35 minutes, and finished the game and complained of soreness. We chose not to take him to Como as a precaution, he had the scan, got the result, and the physio diagnosed it correctly on the spot. We will try to get Lewis into the group as quickly as we can.


Playing different systems…

You have to be flexible in League Two, and I think you have to be flexible in football nowadays. The game has massively changed in the last three to five and seven years. The amount of times we turned up expecting a team to play a formation last season, and they completely ripped it up and played something else.

We have to be flexible, and I have to be flexible about who’s available. I played 4-4-2 in the first two games, and today I played 4-3-3, and on Tuesday I might play 3-5-2. I’m going to be really flexible to personnel and coach the players to play systems and how we play with and without the ball. Then hope the players can take the information on.

If they can’t, then it’s a good learning curve for me to learn which players can and can’t take it on and what systems they can play and can’t play. Now is the time to bed in ideas.


Transfer targets…

At least two attacking players. Two attacking players need to come into the building to add different attributes and strength in depth because it’s going to be a long season for us.

I’ve had a meeting with Kenny [Jackett] and Hessy, and we know that we need to add at the top end of the pitch, and we will. I’m really pleased with the lads and how they’ve developed in pre-season. Ultimately, Joe Gbode and Ronald Sithole need to be out on loan playing games of football. We need to make sure that we have a little bit more seniority around those front positions.

I’ve mentioned the centre half as a position that we’re looking at. That hasn’t changed. We need a bit more strength in depth in that area, which maybe gives us a bit more flexibility in how we want to play.


Looking to Charlton on Tuesday…

We have to be mindful that we are playing against a really good opponent, again. At the moment, it’s about getting the senior players what they want and what they need to be ready. It’s another game that we want to be as strong as we possibly can but in the constraints of who’s available.

It’s the same group of players on Tuesday, and it will be rotating who plays with who and maybe different formations.

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