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Midfielder Mark Byrne eager to sign new deal at Gillingham

By Luke Cawdell

Gillingham player-of-the-year Mark Byrne wants to stay but insists the deal has to be right.

The 29-year-old Dubliner swept the board at the end-of-season awards and was in talks with the Gills over a new deal before their season finished.

Byrne is coming to the end of his initial two-year contract, signed after leaving Newport County in 2016.

Mark Byrne says he is happy at Priestfield and wants a new contract Picture: Ady Kerry
Mark Byrne says he is happy at Priestfield and wants a new contract Picture: Ady Kerry

“The deal has to be right for me,” he said.

“I have a family to look after. Hopefully it will get sorted out. I am happy here at the moment and delighted that the gaffer (Steve Lovell) is here, that is one of the reasons that I want to stay.

“I know what he's like and I know that is man management is great. You can see with all of the lads they all enjoyed playing for him.

“We have a great group here and last year we had a few good individual players but it is more of a unit this year, more togetherness, and Marts (Lee Martin) as captain is doing a great job.

“There are others in the same situation (including Martin) and I think over the next couple of weeks or so hopefully it will get done.

“We need to keep the core of the team together and add a few more players.

“The table doesn't lie and we know where we are but since the gaffer (Lovell) has taken over we have done very well. We do need to add a few more players and get higher up the league

“We (my family) will go over to Dublin for a couple of weeks and enjoy ourselves and go away on holiday and see what happens.”

Byrne’s player-of-the-year award came after a second consistent season in the Gills midfield, taking his appearances up to 82. He also scored the goal of the season, a screamer against Bristol Rovers.

He said: “I am delighted with what I won. I thought I would be in and around it but I didn't think that I would actually win it.

“I would rather be consistent throughout a whole season and I think I have shown that rather than being a nine out of 10 one week and a four for the next, it’s a seven or eight every week.

“Gabs (Zakuani) has been the same, consistent throughout the whole season, and that is what I would rather have in a team. Over the years as I have matured, you get a bit older and you know what to do.”

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