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Gillingham manager Steve Evans believes former Cardiff City midfielder Stuart O'Keefe will be a hit with players and fans at Priestfield

Manager Steve Evans believes his Gillingham defenders will be excited by the arrival of his new addition.

Evans wants to make the Gills midfield more resilient, in an effort to protect the team’s back-line, and former Cardiff and Crystal Palace man Stuart O’Keefe fits the bill.

The 28-year-old was released by Cardiff at the end of the season having spent the last two years out on loan, playing for MK Dons, Portsmouth and Plymouth.

Stuart O'Keefe chases down Billy Bingham at Priestfield while playing for Portsmouth Picture: Andy Jones
Stuart O'Keefe chases down Billy Bingham at Priestfield while playing for Portsmouth Picture: Andy Jones

His arrival came shortly before that of former Manchester United midfielder Matty Willock.

Speaking prior to that, Evans said of O'Keefe: “Stuart is energetic, strong, talented, with good ability and he is a competitive midfield player.

“Max Ehmer text and said he was popping in for a coffee and when he sees O’Keefe has signed he will be absolutely buzzing, he has got someone to stop the opposition players running at him! He will see others arrive in that area as well.”

O’Keefe, who signed a two year deal on Tuesday, is originally from the Bromley area and has a girlfriend in Maidstone so a move to the Gills will be ideal, geography helping Evans win the race to sign him.

He played 12 Premier League game during his time at Palace and in January 2015 Cardiff, then managed by Russell Slade, shelled out around £1.5m for his services.

O’Keefe found his chances at Cardiff limited under Neil Warnock and he was released this summer. Evans was quick to react, making contact on his first day as the Gills boss.

Evans said: “He wanted to be near his home and parents and back in Kent and from that point of view it was a big factor and we are pleased to land him.

“He is a good player and I first saw Stuart O’Keefe when he played for Crystal Palace. I took my Crawley team there in the cup and I thought he was outstanding.

“He was a young man then and you identify him and track his career.

“He will be a very good player for the club, fans will like him, they will take to him because he fights, he scraps and he wins, he is technically good as well.”

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