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Stephen Butcher could stay on at Maidstone United after revealing he is leaving Gillingham in the summer

Stephen Butcher has revealed he is leaving Gillingham in the summer – opening the door for a permanent deal at Maidstone.

Butcher is on loan at the Gallagher Stadium until the end of the season but has already been told he won’t be offered a new contract at Gills.

The loan switch to Stones has helped him get over the disappointment and while he wants to get back in the Football League one day, Butcher, 19, is interested in extending his stay at United.

He said: “I’ve been at Gills nine or 10 years and was gutted when I was told I wouldn’t be getting a new contract but so many people have said it’s just a minor blip in my career and to keep working hard.

Stephen Butcher Picture: Steve Terrell
Stephen Butcher Picture: Steve Terrell

“It could be a good thing coming out of a bad thing because it’s given me a kick up the backside.

“I had a few calls about going out on loan but decided Maidstone would be the best move because the crowds are good and it’s a professional set-up. It’s good to be playing men’s football.

“It’s a lot more physical than development football at Gillingham. It toughens you up and shows you the dirty side of the game.

“I’d like to get back in the league but as long as I’m enjoying my football, I can play anywhere.

“I enjoy it at Maidstone so there’s no reason why I couldn’t stay – if they want me.”

Butcher, who also had a loan spell with Ramsgate this season, played mainly as a right-back at Gills but Stones boss Jay Saunders has made the most of his versatility by using him in central midfield.

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