Meet the opposition: Gills boss Evans thinks ‘fantastic, brilliant’ Lambert ‘will’ get Ipswich promoted
Ipswich Town are in League One action away at Gillingham tomorrow. Stuart Watson and Andy Warren take a look at the Blues’ opponents
Town boss Paul Lambert used his pre-match press conference to state, on a few occasions, that the Blues have a target on their backs and are there to be shot at due to the size of the club.
Judging by Gillingham boss Steve Evans' comments, that's exactly how the rest of League One see the Blues.
"They will get promoted to the Championship again," Evans said of Ipswich.
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"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.
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"He is getting brilliant support from Marcus Evans (owner) 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."
Run of their own
Lambert's men go into this game protecting an eight-game unbeaten start, but the Gills are on a run of their own.
Evans' men have avoided defeat in each of their last four League One games, with that run including two home victories without conceding and two scoring draws on the road.
"We are still not getting that rub of the green, we saw that on Tuesday (1-1 draw at Bristol Rovers), we saw it at Tranmere when we were 2-0 up and it could have been three or four (the game ended in a 2-2 draw), Blackpool (2-2 draw) the same, they got the ski masks on and went away with a point," Evans said.
"It is a new group, they continue to work hard and they are still impressionable.
"We demand the highest of standards of them every week, and hopefully we will give Ipswich a good account of ourselves but we are not kidding ourselves, we know it will be tough."
Remember Ben Pringle? He's at Gillingham now.
The left-footed midfielder scored two goals in 10 appearances for the Blues during an end-of-season loan spell from Fulham in 2015/16.
Spells at Preston, Oldham (loan), Grimsby (loan) and Tranmere (loan) followed before he moved to Priestfield on a free transfer this summer.
Also at the Kent club is former Town youth teamer Stuart O'Keefe. The former Hartismere High School pupil was released by the Blues in 2007 before going on to play for Southend, Palace, Blackpool (loan), Cardiff, MK Dons (loan), Portsmouth (loan) and Plymouth (loan). He too was a free agent addition for Gillingham this summer.
Since promotion to League One in 2013, Gillingham have finished 17th, 12th, 9th, 20th, 17th and 13th.
The decision by owner Paul Scally to sack Steve Lovell with two games to spare last season was met by anger from many supporters.
There was a sense a man who had led the club away from relegation danger to a midtable finish on a shoestring budget could have done little more.
TalkSport presenter and former Gills striker Tony Cascarino blasted the decision as 'disgraceful' and embarassing'.
Scally subsequently appointed former Rotherham, Leeds, Mansfield and Peterborough Evans. He became the club's sixth manager in seven years.
Star striker Tom Eaves, who scored 22 goals last season, turned down a new deal to join Hull.
Senior players Tomas Holy, Luke O'Neill, Alex Lacey, Billy Bingham and Callum Reilly were also part of a mass exodus.
Evans set about rebuilding, bringing in 16 - yes, sixteen - new faces on frees or loans. Most are 23 or younger.
Alfie Jones and Thomas O'Connor (Southampton), Mikel Ndjoli (Bournemouth) and Alex Jakubiak (Watford) have all been borrowed from Premier League clubs, while Connor Ogilivie and Matty Willock were picked up on frees from Tottenham and Man United respectively.
Jack Bonham (Brentford), Lee Hodson (Rangers), Mark Marshall (Charlton), Ousseynou Cisse (MK Dons) and the aforementioned Pringle are more experienced additions.