New signing Gary Borrowdale won’t receive a penny in wages from Gillingham until he proves he is serious about salvaging his career.
Left-back Borrowdale was an unexpected arrival from non-league Margate on transfer deadline day having been out of the professional game since his release by QPR in the summer of 2012.
The 28-year-old played under Gills boss Peter Taylor at Crystal Palace and contacted his old manager to ask for another chance in the Football League.
Borrowdale started the season at Skrill South Tonbridge but then dropped another level to play for Margate in the Ryman League, Premier Division.
Taylor is convinced Borrowdale, who has signed until the end of the season, still has the talent to play in League 1.
But he will have to prove himself before he gets paid.
Taylor said: “All we’ve done with Gary is basically give him a little bit of expenses to get fit because I think he can be a good player.
“He’s 28, he’s been involved with me at England under-21 level and at Crystal Palace and he’s had some good moves.
“He’s probably got sloppy and let himself down and that’s why he’s not in the league. On ability, he should be in the league, 100%.
“If he now shows us he’s got the desire to get himself fit, then we could have a good player on our hands in about three weeks’ time.”
Taylor was so surprised to receive the call he didn’t realise who he was talking to.
He added: “Gary phoned me and I gave him a total blank to start off with because I didn’t understand his surname. I thought he said Burdale and he’d said Borrowdale.
“I thought ‘well, I don’t know any Gary Burdale’ and I honestly thought it was an agent pushing a left-back but it was him pushing himself.
“Once I sussed his name, then I had a chat with him the next day. He knew he was going to get no commitment from me until he gives us commitment.
“If people think he’s costing us a lot of money, I can promise you he’s not.”