Gillingham manager Steve Evans has decided which loan players will stay and who will depart.
The Gills have six loan players at the club, all of whom initially signed for the season, but Evans has the option to send any back this month if he feels he needs a change of personnel.
Evans has made it clear he plans to make changes during the mid-season transfer window, hoping to improve their fortunes during the second part of the campaign.
He planned to discuss the loan situation with trusted assistant Paul Raynor on the way back from Plymouth, where they had been beaten 1-0. The parent clubs and players were due to be told either way on Sunday or today (Monday) about their intentions.
“We always said we would give everyone a chance,” said the Gills manager.
“They won’t all be staying, that’s for sure. The bottom line is we have to strengthen the group and the team.”
The loan market is ideal for Evans, working on a tight budget, where he can bring players in without committing to lengthy deals. Those who impress stay, those who don’t depart.
It’s been an up and down first half of the season for all of the loan recruits, as expected for a group of players with very limited experience playing in the men’s game.
Defender Zech Medley, on loan from Arsenal, has missed the last three games while another recruit from the Premier League club Trae Coyle has started only three league matches with another 10 League 1 appearances from the bench.
Evans also signed a couple of players from Coventry City on loan during a time when they had lost several midfield players to injury. Declan Drysdale offers them versatility while Josh Eccles has recently had a run in the team playing a defensive midfield role. He’s a player highly thought of at Championship side Coventry, having just signed a new deal there, a contract that runs to June 2023.
Young Celtic prospect Scott Robertson, who had a patchy start to his time at Gillingham has he picked up several injuries while getting used to what’s been a hectic 2020/21 schedule. He’s shown some class and has started the last three games alongside Eccles in midfield.
Irish youngster Tommy O’Connor is in his second spell on loan from Southampton. He was another that had injury problems early on, punctuated by spells of international duty, but he has just started to get a run of games in the side.
The Gills have been experiencing inconsistent results and inconsistent performances and Evans will have looked at who can offer the most reliability when making his decision.
Speaking about his squad in general, he said: “If we played like we did second half at Plymouth then we will win a lot of games but that inconsistency in our performances is there. We’ve had one 90 minutes, at Rochdale, and other than that we have played in spells.
“Experience tells you that, ultimately, certain ones are not good enough because they can be very good one week and not so good other weeks. It tells you that you have an issue.”
Commenting on Sunday, he added: “I have already made my decisions in relationship to our loan players but each of them must hear it from me first, stopping here for the second half of the season or going back to their parent clubs.”
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