Fuller reflects on his start to the season
Fuller reflects on his start to the season

Gillingham defender Barry Fuller may be touching 35, but he’s feeling as good as ever as he enters his 15th season as a professional.

“I think I’ve done okay” said Fuller, speaking about his form so far this season.

“Playing out of position, as I did a lot of last season, it’s still a bit different, going down the left to the right, but I just go out and give 110%. I’ll give it my best and I feel like my performances have been okay. 

“You can improve any game or performance, but I just keep digging in and working hard and hopefully, as each game comes, I’ll keep progressing.

“Do I want a left back to come in? I want to play. Wherever the gaffer puts me in the team, if I’m playing, I’m happy to play. If I’m playing up front, I’ll maybe not be the best up there, but I’ll do a job for the team. I just want to play. 

“Whenever the gaffer puts me, I’ll give 100% for the shirt.

“All managers are different, and they all want to work their own philosophies in football clubs. The gaffer has come in and he’s real demanding on everyone in training. You know you’ve got to be on your toes and ready to work hard in training. 

“Everyone’s shirt is up for grabs; there’s no guarantee that people are in the team each week. If you’re not training right the gaffer will have you out the team. 

“You’ve just got to make sure you’re on your game, and I want to be in the team every week so I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully I can keep my shirt for as long as possible.”#

Fuller got an assist in Gillingham’s 2-2 draw with Blackpool on Tuesday, setting up Alex Jakubiak for the opening goal of the game.

Indeed he has formed a good partnership with Jakubiak in the opening weeks of the season, and he’s thrilled to see his friend scoring goals.

“It’s a relatively new squad. It’s a new bunch of boys” added Fuller.

“The gaffer has bought in some new faces, so everyone is getting to know what each other’s attributes are about. AJ has played a bit out of position on the left, but he got his opportunity to play up front and he showed what ability and quality he’s got up there. 

“He’s got the two goals (on Tuesday). It was nice to get the assist, but I’m pleased for Al to get two goals down the middle where he wants to be playing.

“There were lots of positives to take from the game on Tuesday against a good Blackpool side that will be up there at the end of the season. I felt like we should’ve had all three (points) when we create that many chances against good sides.

“We scored two good goals in the first half and then just before half time we switch off and it’s 2-2. 

“It would probably be more worrying if we’re not creating chances, but over the last few games we’ve created lots of chances and I’m sure over the coming weeks we’ll tighten up at the back and hopefully kill teams off and go ahead.

“I thought the atmosphere on Tuesday was fantastic. One of the best I’ve seen for a long time” added the fullback.

“You could hear them the whole game. It was one of those games where it keeps you on the edge of the seat the whole games. It was a bit of an end to end one, but the final thirty minutes it was literally continuous onslaught on their goal, the third one just wouldn’t happen. 

“Over the coming season I’m pretty sure the fans will get right behind us and keep that atmosphere and we’ll give them a lot to cheers about.”

Gillingham face an in-form Coventry side this weekend, and Fuller is confident the side can keep up their good away form from last season.

“Coventry are a really good side” added Fuller. “At the start of the season I looked at the signings they’d made and the squad they had last year and I thought they’d be up there this year really pushing for it.

“Obviously they’ve started they’re okay and they showed a little bit of what they’re about against Portsmouth, to go 3-1 down, have two men sent off and get something out of it. That’s a credit to any team. 

“I’m pretty sure, even though they’ve only come away with a point, they’ll be on a real high going into Saturday’s game and we’ve got to make sure we’ll be on it. 

“It’s going to be a tough game. It’s an away performance we really need to grind out, roll our sleeves up and have a right go. We know we can create chances and score goals so we’ll go there with belief we can get after them, create a lot of chances and come away with three points.”

The game will be played at Birmingham City’s St Andrew’s Stadium after Coventry were forced out of their usual home ground, The Ricoh Arena, due to ownership issues.

“You’ve got to be professional, go about your business” mentioned Fuller.

“As much as it’s a nice stadium there’s not going to be many people there. But we’ll just go about our business and hopefully we can do our job on the day.

“When we go away we’ve got to be hard to beat, roll our sleeves up and be real dogged really. If we can be solid and dogged we know we can create chances so we can go away and nick 1-0’s. 

“At this level you’ve got to be a real team unit, go away and make it hard for teams. Don’t let them get settled at home and hopefully we can go away and keep our form really good.”

Gillingham have been in fine form this season going forward, but have struggled defensively. They are yet to keep a clean sheet and have conceded late first half goals in every league game so far.

“We’ve got to tighten up at the back” admitted Fuller.

“We’ve conceded goals in the later stages of the halves so we need to tighten up there, but going forward there’s probably not much to change, other than probably be a bit more ruthless. That’s the same both end – we’ve got to be more ruthless in both boxes and the results will come and the victories will come.

“We’ve changed how we played from last year. 

“If we’re a hard working team we’re pretty sure we’ve got enough ability and quality in our team to get victories. At the minute it’s fine margins where we haven’t come away with three points, but we’re not too far away and we’ve got belief in the camp we can go and get victories.

“Being a defender you want to keep clean sheets. When we concede goals like that (late on) it’s a bit of a kick in the stomach, but we know we’ve got to keep working hard. 

“We’re not too far away. It’s a real young squad so we’ve got to make sure we’re rallying around each other but it’s hurtful when you concede any goal at any stage of any game. But, in the manner we have done them over the last couple of games, it can be a little bit more hurtful. 

“When you’re 2-0 up with five minutes to go maybe you sit off a little bit just to try and get through to half time, which maybe could shoot you in the foot because you invite pressure. As soon as you give someone a lifeline, you’re on the back foot for a few more minutes.

 “We’re close and hopefully we can tighten up ship, be a bit more ruthless and the front boys can keep on doing what they’re doing.

“We’re confident, ready and fresh. The game on Tuesday was tough – emotionally it was tough. We’re ready to go and whatever team the gaffer puts out we’ll be confident and go there and give a good account of ourselves.”