GILLINGHAM is just as big a derby game for Charlton as Millwall, according to Valley supremo Phil Parkinson.

The Addicks make the short trip down the A2 this weekend to face the Gills for the first time in a league game in almost three decades.

Charlton have already sold out their ticket allocation and although Millwall will remain this season’s real derby in many fans’ eyes, Parkinson believes Gillingham have just as strong a case.

He said: “I think it is equal in our minds. When we come to play Millwall we will be talking about that being a massive derby game just as much as this one.

“It is a big game and a derby which means a lot to the supporters.

“We said to the lads this morning we are going to have 2,500 supporters there and we are going to treat it like a home game by being positive and taking the game to Gillingham.

“I think it is important we do that but equally, as much as we want the lads to show the passion and commitment of a derby game, we’ve got to play with cool heads and make sure we show that as well.”

The main reason the two clubs haven’t met in these circumstances for so long is because of the respective fortunes of both sides.

However, Parkinson was ever the diplomat when asked if this fixture would have been unthinkable two or three years ago.

“I don’t know about that because Gillingham have been in the Championship before not too many years ago, so it isn’t that unbelievable for Gillingham to play Charlton,” he said.

“It isn’t like Charlton playing Rochdale.”

The game has been overshadowed by this summer’s long-running Chris Dickson potential transfer down the A2.

Ultimately it didn’t happen and the striker was instead sent out on loan to Bristol Rovers, a move which sparked a public spat between Parkinson and Gills owner Paul Scally.

Scally accused Parkinson of being afraid to let Dickson join the Kent side in case the player scored a hatful of goals for the Priestfield outfit.

However, the Addicks boss hit back days later by branding Scally as unprofessional and claimed Gillingham still hadn’t paid up for last season’s loan of Josh Wright.

Parkinson was reluctant to add fuel to the fire this afternoon by elaborating on the controversy but did confirm he has had no direct contact with the Gillingham owner and nor does he expect to speak to him after the game.

“I stand by what I said but I don’t want to go over old ground,” he added.

Charlton played with a 4-4-2 formation for the first time in the league this season against Huddersfield last week, a gamble which paid off in a 2-1 victory for the Addicks.

Parkinson refused to reveal if he would stick with it at Priestfield, but did confirm Jose Semedo, who came on as a half-time substitute against the Terriers, could return to the starting line-up.

He said: “Semedo is fine and has trained all week. He has looked good and is pushing for a place.

“Which ever formation it is, it will be positive and we always are in every game we play.”

Charlton have no fresh injury or suspension worries for Saturday’s big game.