Gillingham v Town – Preview
Town go into tomorrow’s match at Gillingham knowing that a win will guarantee them top spot with Coventry not playing.
Along the carrot of going top of the league, Town will also be looking to extend their unbeaten start to the campaign and perhaps even equal their club record of five successive league clean sheets.
Despite the excellent start, does Lambert believe there is more to come from the squad?:“We can try and do everything we can and hopefully throughout the season that’s what’s going to happen.
“We’re there to be shot at and everybody wants to beat us because the support behind the football club is phenomenal, and at the minute everybody wants to beat us.”
Although it is still early in the campaign Lambert will be looking to continue the unbeaten start to the season.
“If we can get that right to the end of the season, then we’ll get up, that’s the bottom line,” he added.
“We’re playing well and if the lads can handle the pressure of playing for this club then great, and so far so good.”
With Gillingham being Town’s third game in a week Lambert is set to rotate the squad again, something Lambert has said the players have brought into: “They’ve been brilliant, they’ve been really good,” he reflected. “As I said before, there’s a lot of belief there, a lot of drive, a lot of energy, excitement and you’re right, whatever team I pick and whatever personnel I play they seem to perform.
“I trust them all, and you need everybody to win you a league. It’s not 18 guys, you need everybody, and everybody has been really really good and if we can keep that we’ll see where it takes us.”
Gillingham sit 15th in the league and are currently four games unbeaten, with Lambert insisting every game will be a tough one this year.
“As I said before, we’re a big club and everyone wants to beat us,” Lambert added. “But if we go there and play hopefully the way we can, we can come away with a win.”
Tomas Holy will continue in goal for Town against his former club with Lambert having several decisions ahead of him.
If Lambert keeps with the 3-5-2 Luke Woolfenden could return to a back three, perhaps with Cole Skuse moving forward into a more midfield role from the off.
If Lambert returns to the 4-4-2 formation then Lambert would pick which one to rest out of Luke Chambers and James Wilson to partner Luke Woolfenden.
Kane Vincent-Young will be on the right with perhaps Myles Kenlock returning to the left with two games in a week too much for the returning Luke Garbutt.
In midfield Flynn Downes and Cole Skuse with either two wide players or a number 10 if Lambert sticks with Tuesdays formation.
Anthony Georgiou, Danny Rowe, Gwion Edwards and Alan Judge will all be in contention to start with Emyr Huws and Jon Nolan likely to return to the bench.
James Norwood should be fit enough to keep his starting position with Kayden Jackson. Lambert has already said that forward Will Keane is not ready to start yet.
Gillingham manager Steve Evans is expecting Town to be there or thereabouts come May.
They will get promoted to the Championship again,” Evans told the Kent Messenger. “You can’t have 32 outstanding first-team players in the squad and not have enough options.
“They have a fantastic manager in Paul Lambert, a brilliant manager who has experienced another level with Norwich.
“He is getting brilliant support from Marcus Evans and you only have to look at the options he has available.
“It will be a real tough test and they will bring big support. It is a big test for us but you want to test yourself against the best, I certainly do.
“Paul Lambert has been in the Premier League for many years and I love coming up against him.
“Paul has used his contacts and his knowledge. We are both Glasgow boys and the difference between me and him is that I had more holes in my shoes than he did! I don’t forget that.”
“The front two are exceptional. I was at Posh last year and we bid over £1 million for Kayden Jackson.
“He is an outstanding talent and is playing up front with the boy James Norwood, who is a fantastic finisher, so we know it will be tough for us.
“We will perhaps have a different shape than Tuesday, a different system [they started 4-2-3-1 before moving to 4-4-2 and then later to 3-5-2] and one or two changes in personnel to make sure we are fresh.”
Historically, Town have the upper hand on the Gills, winning eight games between the sides (six in the league), drawing 10 (10) and losing just two (two).
Saturday’s referee is Christopher Sarginson from Staffordshire, who has shown 16 yellow cards and no red in six games so far this season.