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Smallwood expecting a physical encounter

11 September 2020

Captain Richie Smallwood is expecting a physical encounter when Hull City take on Gillingham in their League One season opener.

The Tigers will make the 442-mile round trip to Priestfield Stadium tomorrow for the first competitive meeting between the clubs in 35 years.

The Gills finished tenth on points per game last season under Steve Evans, a man Smallwood knows well from his spell at Rotherham.

The 29-year-old says the Tigers are well aware of the threats Gillingham will pose and are ready for the challenge.

“I’m expecting a physical game, an extremely physical game,” said Smallwood. “I know the manager down there quite well; I played with him for a few years and I know his style of play.

“Looking at the team, their height and the physical advantage they may have, we know how they’re going to play. We’ll be working on trying to stop their threats, especially with the two big men up front, and looking to exploit their weaknesses.”

City’s campaign started with a penalty shootout victory against Sunderland in the Carabao Cup last weekend – and Smallwood has stressed the importance of building momentum.

“We need to start winning games consecutively and breeding a winning mentality throughout the group,” he commented.

“We did that at the weekend and Gillingham is the next one. We’re taking it game by game, step by step. If we can get another win on the board, it’ll only give us confidence.

"If we get another clean sheet too that’ll be two on the bounce and give us massive confidence heading into the next game.”

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