Published: 06:00, 19 December 2019
| Updated: 13:16, 19 December 2019
Some top teams have been checking out Gillingham’s young goalkeeper Joe Walsh.
Gills boss Steve Evans has confirmed that Premier League side Everton and Scottish giants Celtic are among the clubs to have shown interest in the 17-year-old stopper.
The talented teenager has played just three senior games for the Gills, all in this year’s EFL Trophy campaign.
Despite the interest, the Gills have had no offers.
Evans said: “Some of these big clubs will be looking and thinking, because of the homegrown rule as well, they need homegrown players. He is a big asset to us.
“We know the people that are coming, it’s not made up. Celtic have been here, Everton have been here, overseas clubs, a couple of German clubs saying they are looking at our young goalkeeper. But there is a difference between looking and being prepared to come back and buy someone.
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“We all go shopping, don’t we, but often we just go to look. You look and look and look, and if you do what my wife does, we will go around every shop in Bluewater, upside down and back to front, then buy something from the first shop she has been in!
“A lot of football people do a lot of window shopping because they have to make sure it is right and it doesn’t matter the wealth in the Premier League, every penny is accountable, it just means they have a lot more pennies.”
Walsh has been someone Evans has rated since day one at the Gills and he’s seeing improvements.
He said: “Joe is at a very early stage of his career. I don’t even think he is long 17. He is a baby and he is going to have a wonderful career.
“He is learning all the time, playing and training and watching Jack Bonham and working with Simon Royce (the goalkeeper coach) as well who is bringing him on.
“We saw at Ipswich that he has lots to learn. He made one or two costly errors that night, but you can see in training he is getting better, he is communicating more effectively. He is a quiet lad, but he will do very well.
“On the occasional times we allow Joe to play with the youth team he looks like a first-team player in the youth team, it becomes very obvious to the eye. That is how much he has made progress and it’s testament to his ability.
“Clubs will look. Whether some big club wants to come and take him as part of their development group, that is what the big clubs are doing. Nobody has come to us and said that, but that is what the big clubs are doing.
“I have had managers ask me about him, I have had managers ask me about Connor (Ogilvie) in the last week from the Championship. People notice when you are doing well.”
Talk of goalkeepers led to Evans recalling the time he found himself discussing the area with some of his fellow countrymen, including Sir Alex Ferguson, while at a retirement bash for former Scotland manager Craig Brown.
Evans said: “I was very privileged to be around people like Sir Alex, Walter Smith, Archie Knox – they call it the Scottish Football mafia, headed by Fergie! I and a few others were humbled looking at the group.
“We had a nice meal, too many wines, and got talking about the attributes needed to be a goalkeeper. It came to me, ‘Evo, what’s your thoughts?!’ I was pretending to be sober and articulate and said, ‘I like them 6’2, 6’3, technically decent, can kick it well, comes for corners, brave, courageous, vocal...’, so I went through about 10 characteristics. I thought great.
“I looked to Sir Alex and nodded to him. He said, ‘aye, son, but for me I just like them to keep the ball out of the net!’.
“I had talked for 10 minutes and he summed it up in one sentence!”