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Neil Harris delivers worrying injury verdict on Gillingham’s captain



Gillingham manager Neil Harris has given injury updates on midfield pairing Ben Reeves and Stuart O’Keefe, confirming skipper O’Keefe will miss Saturday’s trip to Southend.

Following the abcence of both in Gillingham’s pre-season friendly against Crystal Palace, which the Premier League side won 3-2, Harris has confirmed that both sat out due to injury. Whilst Ben Reeves’ absence was purely precautionary, O’Keefe’s ‘knock to the knee’ will see him miss at least one more pre-season friendly whilst the injury is “explored”.

Injury-prone Reeves only managed 26 appearances for Gillingham last year, amassing just 906 minutes in the league. Whilst very talented for League Two level, fitness will once again be a concern for the 30-year-old. Harris has admitted, speaking via Kent Online, that Reeves’ previous record was taken into account: “The plan was always to leave him out somewhere [in pre-season]”.

Reeves had yet to miss a pre-season game, despite Harris wanting to be cautious with his use of the midfielder. A soreness reported by Reeves prior to the friendly was enough to see him rested against a Palace side including England internationals Marc Guehi and Tyrick Mitchell.

O’Keefe’s update, however, could be considered slightly more worrying with the ex-Palace man set to miss Gills’ trip to Southend on Saturday. A crucial player for Gillingham last season, O’Keefe played the full 90 minutes in 23/26 games between gameweek 13 and 39 – totalling over 3,000 league minutes for the season.

Once again expected to be a regular this season, Harris will be hoping for good news on O’Keefe before Gillingham’s season opener against Wimbledon a week on Saturday.

There was good news at the back for Mark Harris, however, as Max Ehmer returned after missing two previous friendlies. Another crucial figure in the Gillingham side, Ehmer played all bar one of Gills’ league games last year after his return from Bristol Rovers.

The Verdict

Whilst Harris will be pleased with how his side managed against a rather strong Palace team, he will be crossing his fingers for O’Keefe’s return before the season starts. With a tough opening game against the Dons, promotion-chasing Gillingham will want to be at full strength – which an O’Keefe absence would certainly deny.

Harris will also be hoping for better luck concerning Ben Reeves this year, a player capable of running games in League Two if fit. Whilst the Experienced head of Shaun Williams will add grit and knowhow to the Gillingham midfield, an injury-free Reeves is capable of offering the creativity and composure necessary for a side chasing an instant return to the third tier.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Neil Harris delivers worrying injury verdict on Gillingham’s captain

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