Gillingham boss Neil Harris explains latest blow to on-loan Portsmouth defender Haji Mnoga's Priestfield stay

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Neil Harris has explained the latest disappointment in Haji Mnoga’s Gillingham loan.

The Gills boss said the defender’s half-time removal during Saturday’s home defeat at the hands of Mansfield was purely tactical.

The Blues youngster was substituted at the break with the hosts 2-0 down and Harris looking for a way to get his League Two strugglers back into the game.

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The 20-year-old’s appearance was his first after being sent off after 10 minutes on his debut against Swindon on September 3.

He was handed an immediate recall to the starting XI for the game at Priestfield after serving a three-match ban.

But after starting on the right of a back three, Mnoga found himself sacrificed as the home side reverted to a back four.

The move failed to turn Gillingham’s fortunes around as they were unable to overturn the 2-0 deficit and remain third from bottom in League Two with just one win all season,

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Yet Harris defended his decision to involve Mnoga in his tactical switch.

Pompey defender Haji MnogaPompey defender Haji Mnoga
Pompey defender Haji Mnoga

He told KentOnline: ‘I wanted to go to the back four.

‘I could have moved Haji to an out-and-out right-back and left Robbie McKenzie at left-back.

‘I just felt that when you move to a diamond you need a bit of balance and we needed a left footer on that side of the pitch.

‘I thought Robbie’s involvement has been really strong in a short space of time, it was Haji who had to come off.’

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Mnoga has featured for just 55 minutes since joining Gillingham on a season-long loan on transfer deadline day.

He has made 18 Blues appearances – three of which came this term before the Tanzania international move to Priestfield.