Gillingham could be an unknown quantity facing MK Dons

Evans, O’Keefe and Manning have their say on the New Year’s Day fixture at Stadium MK

By The Newsroom
Friday, 31st December 2021, 3:19 pm
<p>Gillingham manager Steve Evans</p>

Gillingham manager Steve Evans

There is an air of the unknown for Gillingham and MK Dons as they prepare to meet at Stadium MK on New Year’s Day.

Both clubs have had Covid cases force games off in recent weeks, will the Gills out of action since December 11, while Dons have also seen two games - against Burton and Cheltenham - postponed.

Having lost their last six matches, Gillingham sit second from bottom in League One, but for boss Steve Evans, just having players fit enough to train this week has been a bonus after the virus swept through his dressing room.

He said: “We still have injuries to one or two key players, but it's been good to have 14 or 15 senior players on the grass. We'll see if we can get a couple more today (Friday).

“We've tried our best to keep the positivity in the camp. We need to win some football matches. We are normally stronger in the second half of the season, and we will be, provided we've got the injuries cleared up a little bit.

"MK Dons are a good side. I watched them at Sincil Bank a few days ago against a Lincoln team full of good players.

"They dominated the ball, dominated the chances and could have scored a few more."

View from a former Dons midfielder

Stuart O’Keefe spent the second half of the 2016/17 season on loan at MK Dons from Cardiff City. He now plays for GIllingham.

Former Dons loanee Stuart O’Keefe, who made 18 appearances for the club in 2017, was sent off in reverse fixture at Priestfield, giving away the penalty which allowed Dons to take the lead in the first half before they went on to win 4-1 in September.

Speaking ahead of the fixture, he said: “I was at MK Dons for a bit as a player, on loan from Cardiff, so I know a little bit about them.

“They are very much possession based, so we will need to concentrate hard, do our jobs, be disciplined and make the most of the ball when we have it.”

What the MK Dons boss had to say

MK Dons head coach Liam Manning

Dons’ head coach Liam Manning admitted that after three weeks without a game, Gillingham’s line-up will be hard to predict but said he has a fair idea of what to expect when they arrive for the game tomorrow.

“We've no idea where they're at going into the game - they've not played since December 11,” he said. “We've no idea about squad predictions, what system or who they'll play, but we know we'll get a hard-working side that will compete and play with discipline.

“We will have to control what we can, and learn the lessons from Lincoln.”