Gillingham v Portsmouth preview: League One clash live on Sky Sports
Last Updated: 06/10/17 11:53am
Gillingham caretaker boss Peter Taylor must do without suspended forward Tom Eaves and midfielder Mark Byrne for Sunday's televised Sky Bet League One clash against Portsmouth.
Taylor made six changes for the midweek Checkatrade Trophy win at Colchester, so the likes of Lee Martin, Gabriel Zakuani and Conor Wilkinson should all come back in. Defender Luke O'Neill has been sidelined by a hamstring problem and Alex Lacey an ankle injury, while midfielder Billy Bingham continues to recover from a concussion in training earlier this month.
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Midfielder Scott Wagstaff and defender Bradley Garmston and are stepping up recovery for their respective calf injuries. Aaron Morris (knee) remains a long-term absentee.
Pompey defender Christian Burgess will be assessed on a head injury along with Nathan Thompson (calf), with manager Kenny Jackett hoping his defensive crisis will ease. Damien McCrory has undergone surgery on the knee injury which has seen the defender miss Pompey's last four matches, so midfielders Dion Donohue and Gareth Evans are likely to fill the full-back roles, with striker Oliver Hawkins partnering Matt Clarke at centre-back should Burgess and Thompson not make it.
Portsmouth will be without forward Conor Chaplin, who has suffered a recurrence of a hamstring problem. Top-scorer Brett Pitman is recovering from keyhole knee surgery, while also having an operation to fix his broken nose, so last season's top scorer Kal Naismith could return to the starting XI.
This is the first meeting between the sides in the third tier since March 1983, when Gillingham won 1-0.
Pompey haven't kept a clean sheet in their last eight trips to the Priestfield Stadium in all competitions (16 goals conceded) since winning 1-0 in November 1980.
Gillingham's tally of seven points is their lowest total after 11 games in the third-tier since 1988/89 (assuming three points for a win); they were relegated that year.
Portsmouth have won just one of their opening five away league games this season (D1 L3); they had won six of their last seven on the road on their way to promotion last season.
Joint-top scorer in League One Brett Pitman has scored as many goals in 11 league games this season as many as he had in his previous 46 prior to joining Pompey (nine).
Gillingham have been on a dreadful run of form and it's no surprise that they find themselves so far down the table and in a bit of trouble already. There's an awful long way to go but they need to turn things around quickly.
I can't see that happening on Sunday, though, and I fancy Portsmouth to head to Priestfield and get the victory.
Prutton predicts: 1-2 with Oliver Hawkins to score first (28/1 with Sky Bet)