Spiller out for at least six weeks as Buckle faces big decisions for opening fixture

Summer signing Danny Spiller has been ruled out for a minimum of six weeks with an achilles problem Town boss Paul Buckle revealed at today’s press conference, writes Mark Wood.

Fellow Gillingham capture Garry Richards though is back in full training, but Saturday’s opener at home to Gateshead may well have come to early for the centre-half.

Buckle said: “Spiller and Richards are a big disappointment for us.

“Richards is actually back training now, but Spiller is going to be a little while.

“I think maybe looking at six weeks at the moment. Best case scenario, six weeks.

“He’s (Richards) back in full training now. It might be a little bit early to be involved but he is back in full training.

“And he’s looking better and better every day. Every training session that goes by he looks stronger, fitter, more confident with the leg.

“He’s very aggressive in his manner, very aggressive in his voice, and he’s certainly got good leadership qualities which we’re going to need.”

“And Jon Shaw’s obviously missed a chunk of the games. Although Jon has trained he has missed the games, so he’s not managed to get 90 minutes in yet and it’s been tough on him and on myself but these things happen.

“We’ve been able to continue good form and results.

“Pre-season is always tough, it’s six weeks to try and get the players fit and stay away from injury and pick some results up.

“And I think the only thing we haven’t steered clear of is injuries so I’m happy on most fronts and the players are in good shape.”

And he admitted he has an extremely difficult task to pick a starting XI for Saturday.

Buckle added: “It’s very difficult, it’s going to be really difficult. I asked the staff for their opinion yesterday and they were saying the same things.

“It’s hard, because if you look at the challenges and the places that are up for grabs.

“There’s Fleets, there’s Shaw, there’s Gray, Rendell. So three into four maybe.

“One misses out and then you’ve got the midfield battles that are going on.

“O’Donnell, Watkins, Lawless, Yas. I think Yas has done ever so well and made that position his own. I think he’s excellent at that role.

“Then people like Beckwith. I haven’t mentioned Dean Beckwith, but he’s trained brilliantly and been a real big part of it.

“But then Ronnie and Kovacs have formed a good partnership and I’ve been happy with Kovacs.

“I think I want him to be more aggressive and I told him that the first week into pre-season.

“There’s no point being as tall as a building unless you’re going to punch your weight.

“Janos knows now what I’m after from him and I think we’ve seen that. We’ve seen even an improvement on what he did last year.

“So there’s big challenges everywhere and the challenge for me is to pick the team on Saturday.

“We are going to need all of them over the coming months.”