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Gillingham manager Mark Bonner has signed four new players this summer and the club are exploring the loan market too

Gillingham are exploring loan possibilities for the new season even if permanent deals are the preferred way for boss Mark Bonner.

The Gills made four permanent additions shortly after the end of last season as they hunted down the players that they had already targetted. The club have described the next stage as “phase two” of their recruitment process and that includes looking into who’s available on loan.

Gillingham manager Mark Bonner sees potential value in loan recruits Picture: Keith Heppell
Gillingham manager Mark Bonner sees potential value in loan recruits Picture: Keith Heppell

Higher-league clubs are slowly starting to let players head out on loan but Bonner knows it’s a market they have to stay patient with.

“You always look to it,” he said, when talking about the loan market.

“The key to a loan is a real understanding at the beginning of the agreement between the parent club, the loaning club, the player and the agent of ‘what is this loan about?’

“Is it just experience of senior football and therefore you are filling the squad, or are they going to make the 11 better and start and play 40 games? Different players will fall into different categories and for some, particularly at this level, a lot of loans are first-time loans, so there is a little bit of unknown to that.

“You have to have a real clear understanding of what the loan is for.

“I am absolutely not against loans at all but the vast majority of clubs want their players back in the early weeks of pre-season, one to see where they are and to get some data on how they look, two because you need good numbers early on in pre-season for games and everything else.

“The biggest clubs are often all over the world, or in Europe somewhere, so they need those players. It is certainly very rare in my experience that those things happen early.”

The new players who have joined this summer are Elliott Nevitt, Armani Little, Jack Nolan and Aaron Rowe.

Bonner continued: “In the main we will try and sign players who we think will make us better now, instantly, and that are ours as well and I think that when you see some of the ones we’ve signed, the age, they can go again and still have lots of growth in them.

“You have to have that balance right in the squad because you need a bit of everything. You need good age throughout and good experience throughout. We will keep doing that and see what else becomes available.

“There is value in loan players, in the fact that sometimes they can be economically a good decision and maybe you can add more players to your squad if you use the loan market well.

“It can get you access to a player at a level you wouldn’t be able to get permanently.

“We will certainly use that as part of our recruitment to bolster the squad up and give us some competition and if it can get us a player who makes us better, that is the main thing we will try and find.

“Usually, if someone has had a really good loan at League 2 last year they are probably not coming back to League 2 this year.

“In the initial period we have looked to add our own players, permanent players, that can fit the model of what we are trying to do really quickly and we will see what else comes up.”

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