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Gillingham pre-season training begins this week as Neil Harris continues to hunt for new recruits


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Gillingham begin their pre-season training today and manager Neil Harris can’t wait.

He’s spent the last two months working tirelessly on player negotiations and while those will continue he’s looking forward to welcoming his 11 contracted players into the building as preparations for the 2022/23 League 2 campaign get under way.

Gillingham manager Neil Harris welcomes the players back this week Picture: KPI
Gillingham manager Neil Harris welcomes the players back this week Picture: KPI

Fitness and technical work will dominate the early days of their return, led by the sports science team, before an in-house game early next week. They head to Folkestone Invicta next Saturday for their opening pre-season match.

“I can’t wait,” said the manager. “It has been a gruelling summer so far in the sense of recruitment-wise and seeing the players back in the building is great.

“We have some great characters coming back in, we want a fit Ben Reeves this season, it is a challenge for us to make sure he is as fit as possible and we’re really excited about Alex MacDonald being part of the group, on the grass, working towards his fitness.

“We have some really good players and good guys in, it is just making sure we have that support around that core group at the top end of the pitch and the goalkeeping department and to add quality to what we have already, but seeing the players is key for a manager, to see the group, the connection and to build a culture and an environment over the coming weeks.”

What can the players expect on their return?

Harris said: “The first three days is based around fitness testing and it is not running up stands anymore, not running the marathon, nothing like that, it is gym-based, field-based, measurements to what distance and times we expect players to cover, it’s very scientific

“Day one might be technical work, day two or three on the grass with passing drills, possession exercises, we just have to make sure we get the timings right, how long we play for and the distances right, how much they cover.

“Next week we’re straight into the football from Monday onwards, including an in-house 11 versus 11 leading into Folkestone on Saturday week.”

Josh Chambers makes his debut for Gillingham against Doncaster last season and was offered a pro deal this summer Picture: KPI
Josh Chambers makes his debut for Gillingham against Doncaster last season and was offered a pro deal this summer Picture: KPI

As of Tuesday, an offer of a professional contract was still on the table for teenager Josh Chambers. The midfielder was handed his Football League debut by Harris last season and made his first start at Sunderland in April.

Harris said: “We have offered him a contract and I spoke to him at length and his representatives on more than one occasion about how the football club sees Josh’s development and with all due respect to all parties, I played Josh infront of 30,000 at the Stadium of Light when we were entrenched in a relegation battle and trusted him.

“Josh’s potential is quite high but the ball is always in the player’s court when it comes to what they want to do and where they see their future.”

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