Evans targeting three points
Evans targeting three points

Gillingham boss Steve Evans wants nothing more for his birthday than three points at the weekend when his side welcome Sunderland in SKYBet League One.

The Gills boss, who turned 58 on Friday, has been talking ahead of the weekend’s big clash at Priestfield than to break the clubs current run of four successive defeats, but even with the disappointment, the manager as always remained upbeat as he told us.

“It’s the first time in a twenty-two year career that I’ve lost four games in a row, statistically that’s not us. But when you’re winning games you still have to look at the quality of performance, I think you have to not let your eyes tell you lies about performance, I said after the MK Dons game that wasn’t us; we were poor decidedly well beaten!

“I can’t say that in any other game as I think we’ve shown something in each of them. Experience tells you that you playing in spells such as we did at Portman Road and as we did for a lot of the Fleetwood game, and you’re making chances, the boys we’ve got up front won’t miss those chances on a regular basis and their scoring boots will return.”

“I’m trying to stop talking about resources, revenues and budgets and things like that, but when you talk Portsmouth, when you talk Fleetwood, when you talk Ipswich and when you talk who we’ve got this weekend, Sunderland, you are talking eight to ten times our budget which is great when you’ve got it as a manager and you can command the players you’ve got and good players win games but it doesn’t matter what your resources are as its eleven versus eleven!

“But one thing that our Chairman does is that he pays the resources we can afford and that’s crucial as you can see clubs going to the wall in the next six months unless our Government or the Premier League step into help.”

Evans then focused on the weekend and Sunderland’s trip to Kent. “I think they’re better than last season,” the Gills boss conceded. “Phil Parkinson has had the opportunity now to implement his style completely.

“They’re a good management team at this level who have been successful and what you’ve got with Sunderland is the buying power to get some wonderful players for the level that we play at. So, they will be a big, big challenge for us, I see Sunderland in the top two come the end of the season whatever happens this weekend as I think that’s the strength of their squad.

“I think they’ve made some board room moves and they’ve settled off the pitch more which give you more chance on the pitch, But we’re looking forward to it and certainly from our point of view as a management team, I’ll never forget how great it will be waking up Saturday morning and we’re playing Sunderland Football Club. I think that’s great! It’s a big test but one that we will relish!”

Focus then turned onto the “dreaded” medical report… “Jack Bonham suffered a mild concussion in the week and everyone knows in todays world that is you have concussion under EFL rules they’re automatically out for seven days and we have to respect that!

“We’ve had a goalkeeper train with us, and the Chairman has agreed terms for that loan to be completed. We’ve looked to take the player on for seven days (to cover the League games with Sunderland and Crewe) as Jack has a series of tests after five or six days to check that the concussion isn’t there. Jack Bonham has been absolutely stunning for us since the start of last season and I can only give him huge plaudits.

“The option was to go with Joe Walsh, and he will play a lot of games for this football club and a lot of games higher as he’s a top-class young goalkeeper.

“Had we been sitting here on the back of winning the last four games, there would be no problem in him starting. But we can’t put that pressure on a young man because as much as it could make him, it could sink him and coming in at eighteen years old he’s not quite ready for that.

After the briefing it was confirmed that Evans had signed his man and QPR keeper Joe Lumley is the man.

Other squad news wasn’t great either with confirmation that Jacob Mellis is out for the season. “He’s had a bad tear into his cartilage,” the manager told us.

“The surgeon has discussed it with our medical team, and we’ve been told its season ending. It’s a big loss as I thought he was just starting to flourish – he’s a top talent and I feel for him.

“He’s a loss to us, we cannot replace him until the January window because we have to replace someone of that ability. Ryan Jackson has to be doubtful as he went off at Ipswich; Vadaine Oliver was on the bench on Tuesday at eighty percent but is he one hundred for the weekend? No…

“John Akinde has had a back spasm; Tom O’Connor definitely wont be fit and here we are again that the negativity needs to be turned into positivity as it creates chances for other people… the best player Tuesday was Robbie McKenzie who hasn’t played for weeks, so hopefully with people hurting others will come in and give us big performances.”