Hessenthaler not expecting hat-trick

ANDY Hessenthaler is not expecting to make it a winning hat-trick at Portman Road tomorrow and feels it could be a while before he finds the winning formula, writes Derek Davis.

ANDY Hessenthaler is not expecting to make it a winning hat-trick at Portman Road tomorrow and feels it could be a while before he finds the winning formula, writes Derek Davis.

The Gillingham boss has reluctantly packed in playing to concentrate on managing, with Iwan Roberts coming in as a player/coach from Norwich City.

As much as Hessenthaler would love to get off to a winning start, he is ready to be patient as he blends new signings Darren Byfield and Roberts into his squad.

He said: “We'll have a good squad to choose from and it'll be a tough job for me to pick a team. But that's the nature of the job and you can only pick a squad of 16.


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“It's a case of picking the right team. It might take me three or four games to get it right. We might not get a result at Ipswich on Saturday. Hopefully we will and we'll be geared up and working hard to get a result but if we don't then it's my job to pick the right team that's going to get consistent results.

“That could take us three or four games to find the right team to get consistent results. We may get off to a bad start - I'm hoping not - but if we do we need to make sure we get the right balance.”

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The Gills, who narrowly escaped relegation last season, beat Town 4-3 at Portman Road last year and 2-1 the previous year so a third win in a row would set them up nicely and Hessenthaler will not have to tinker too much after that.

He said: “Hopefully I'll be able to pick a winning team and be able to pick the same players for three or four weeks on the run. We've got to make sure we're more consistent.”

He won't have seen too much to worry about when he and Roberts visited Portman Road on Monday as the Blues beat Osasuna 2-1, but won't be fooled by that poor showing.

He said: “It's hard to read too much into it but we already know they're going to be a good footballing side.

“They've got Jason De Vos in. He's a good player, very intimidating. Kevin Horlock from West Ham has come into their midfield but they've lost a few so it'll be interesting.”

“They've got some really good youngsters as well but we beat them at their place last year and the year before so let's see if we can make it three times in a row. We've got to be on our game. We know what we've got to do and we're looking forward to it.”

Barry Ashby (ankle) and Ian Cox (bad back) are minor doubts, while Darius Henderson is definitely out as he is not fit and his wife is expecting their first child.

n French striker Pascal Nouma will not be offered a contract by Ipswich Town after spending the week on trial.

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