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LOVELL'S NEW LOOK GILLS AT LUNCHTIME FOLLOWED KANE AND CO BEFORE YOU GO HOME FOR TEA!

Phil Starkey - in action for Invicta in their Championship season of 2015/16. "It will be like another new player to have him back" says Neil Cugley

England’s success over in Russia has got the country buzzing with excitement, and while we can’t offer Jordan Pickford, (Sir) Harry Kane or any of those guys, Folkestone Invicta kick-off their pre-season campaign with the prestige friendly against Division One Gillingham at The Fullicks Stadium on Saturday.

Both bars will be open, before and after Invicta’s game, and could be packed after the match in time for England’s kick-off against Sweden at 3pm.

“We couldn’t really have done that better if we’d tried” said Manager Neil Cugley. “Both Bar Invicta and the upstairs bar in the Wilf Armory Suite will be showing the England game.”

It goes without saying that any Gills’ fans who fancy staying over to enjoy watching England in a real football atmosphere will be made very welcome. We’d better just remind everyone that Folkestone’s game kicks-off at 12.30pm.

And our visitors will be binging their full first team squad, including the likes of former skipper Barry Fuller who is back from AFC Wimbledon and several other new faces.

Steve Lovell (pictured) did a great job in keeping the Gills up last season after a disastrous start under former player Ade Pennock and very little improvement as Peter Taylor left in a matter of weeks with relegation still on the cards.

But former Welsh international striker and ex-Sittingbourne manager Lovell’s near 60% success rate must have been one of the best runs of last season. For the record, under Pennock, Gills won less than one in five games and Taylor just one in four before Steve’s arrival back at Priestfield.

Debut

For Folkestone, new striker Alfie Paxman will make his debut, while utility player and former player of the year Phil Starkey is expected to figure for the first time since recovering from a long-term injury.

“We’ll take it fairly steady with him” said boss Cugley. “He’s a fit lad but he’s been out for a long time and will need a while to get going again. I’ll be more than happy if he’s back and ready and in contention (for a first team place) by late August or early September.”

Cugley is also likely to include a proven striker with higher level non-league experience and who trained with the squad last night (Wednesday) and, the manager believes could be a real success at The Fullicks.

His other close season signing, midfielder Jack Evans, is away but returns in time for Monday’s game against Maidstone United, as does chairman Paul Morgan.