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Gillingham linked with Peterborough United striker Jonson Clarke-Harris along with Charlton Athletic – Gills’ head coach Stephen Clemence says it’s news to him

Gillingham head coach Stephen Clemence has responded to speculation the club are interested in buying a proven League 1 striker.

It’s been reported that the Gills have made an enquiry for Peterborough United striker Jonson Clarke-Harris - a player also on the radar of Charlton Athletic.

Peterborough United’s Jonson Clarke-Harris (right) reportedly on Gillingham’s radar
Peterborough United’s Jonson Clarke-Harris (right) reportedly on Gillingham’s radar

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Gills’ head coach Stephen Clemence appeared to distance the club from the speculation, however, saying on Thursday: "I am not going to comment on other people’s players but that is news to me."

The Peterborough Telegraph had confirmed Gills’ interest in the 29-year-old earlier in the week.

Gillingham have found trouble hitting the net for some time and are the lowest scorers in League 2 with just 21 goals from their 25 matches.

Finding a finisher is key to Gillingham’s January transfer business and Clarke-Harris knows where the net is, although he’s unlikely to come cheap.

With Charlton reportedly having a £450,000 bid rejected the Gills will have to splash the cash if they want their man and they may be willing to do so, having lost out to rivals Charlton in the summer as they pursued Alfie May.

May has gone on to score 19 goals this season for the Addicks, almost as many as the entire Gillingham team have netted in the league.

Clarke-Harris has scored 75 goals in 149 league appearances for Posh since returning to the club in August 2020. He’s already in double figures this season, with 10 from 24 games, but his club would be willing to sell.

Posh chairman Darragh MacAnthony, talking on his Hard Truth podcast, said: “Charlton want him, their chief exec used to be my chief exec, they’ve put in bids. We’ve turned them down. Charlton are not a million miles away, I’m not saying £350-400k, but we’ve told them in a polite way and if they reach the number then they have permission to speak to him. It’s not just Charlton.

“People talk about Fleetwood and whoever else but there are other League 1 clubs, a club in League 2, other people.”

Clarke-Harris is out of contract in the summer but MacAnthony suggests making a move now for a club could be a better option.

He said: “If you want to wait until the summer and be in an auction with 100 other clubs trying to sign a free signing wait until then, if you want to save yourself some time, issues, money go and do a deal now.

“He has been magnificent for us as a player and if he can earn a few quid now with the right move in January, then so be it.”

And the Posh chairman didn’t think dropping to League 2 would be an issue for the striker.

He added: “If it was the right club that has aspirations to go up and they paid him the right money, yes , all day long. If it’s good for him and his family, then yes.”

Gillingham’s leading league scorers are midfielder Connor Mahoney and left-back Scott Malone, with four apiece. Macaulay Bonne’s got three in the league and another in the cup.

The Gills have also been linked with QPR striker Charlie Kelman, who was on loan at the club during the 2021/22 season, scoring a couple in the league.

He got promoted with Leyton Orient last season and has since been involved with the QPR first team, making 11 Championship appearances but without scoring.

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