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Gills and Cobblers desperate to escape relegation places

By Charlie Russell

Two points separate Gillingham and Northampton Town as they scrap at the wrong end of the table in League One.

Gills caretaker manager Steve Lovell may have defender Luke O’Neill available following a hamstring problem. Bradley Garmston and midfielder Mark Byrne are both set to return following Tuesday’s clash against promotion-chasing Wigan.

However, defenders Alex Lacey and Ben Nugent will remain sidelined with leg injuries.

Gillingham’s recent form has turned around under Lovell, with a 1-0 away win against Peterborough which was followed by a 1-1 draw against Wigan. A win on Saturday could see the former Gillingham striker rewarded with the job until the end of the season.

This change has been recognised in the dressing room, according to Billy Bingham who told Kent Online: “(Lovell) has come in, done it his way. He wants us to attack with high intensity but also make sure we are defending and being aware that we have to be a defensive unit as well. It is working.

“He has had a couple of days with us before Saturday and then a day before the Wigan game. The boys have taken to him and we are enjoying it. We will see where we go from there.”

Northampton will be looking to follow in the Gills’ footsteps as they look to turn their season around under former Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. The 45-year-old has a win rate of 18.2 per cent with his new side following three defeats in their last five games.

A number of players could possibly return to the Cobblers’ side this weekend with Chris Long looking likely to be match fit after returning from a hamstring injury against Rochdale on Tuesday night.

John-Joe O’Toole returned on Tuesday, coming off the bench following a groin injury he has suffered with since April when Justin Edinburgh was still in charge. However, it is very unlikely the midfielder will start.

Hasselbaink will be without defenders Leon Barnett, who has an issue with his Achilles and Aaron Phillips, who is suffering with a thigh injury. Matt Crooks will also be unavailable as he continues to suffer problems with his knee.

The former QPR manager told Northampton’s website: “We showed real fight in the game at Rochdale and that must help our spirit and belief.

“We don’t want to look too far ahead and we are just taking it game by game but hopefully we can really start to kick on from here.

“Goals have obviously been a problem for us this season and we’ve spoken at length about the importance of everyone being able to contribute.”

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