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Gillingham boss Steve Evans meeting potential signings at Priestfield

Gillingham manager Steve Evans has met some potential new signings.

He lined up five face-to-face meetings for Thursday and a Zoom call has been arranged for the following day as he attempts to bring in some youngsters on loan from the Premier League.

Manager Steve Evans is looking forward to meeting some potential new signings Picture: Ady Kerry
Manager Steve Evans is looking forward to meeting some potential new signings Picture: Ady Kerry

Evans only has nine senior players currently contracted to the club and two of those - Lee Hodson and Barry Fuller - have been told they aren’t in his plans going forward.

It means it’s going to be another busy summer for Evans on the recruitment front and his meetings on Thursday were another step forward in bringing in some more new faces, even if deals can’t be offered.

The Gills are still awaiting a date for the start of the 2020/21 season and until they get that confirmed there won’t be any firm offers made. But it won’t stop Evans getting his plans in place.

He said: “My job is to make sure the ducks are lined up in a row. When we get that date then the supporters can see the type of team and shape of the team that we are looking to put together.

“My job is to improve us on last season and I think I have already identified areas, which I think supporters would have too. They could probably see the same weaknesses as I could. It is my job to plan and take all opinions onboard.

“Obviously Paul Raynor’s (the assistant manager) opinion is key to me and I will take opinions of other managers higher up the levels to me on whether their players could perform for us and help us reach our achievement.

“I have always been a manager who has improved football clubs season on season. That is the way I have been and my job is clearly now to take Gillingham above the top 10 and that is going to be tough when you look at who is left behind.

“We’ll have Sunderland, Ipswich, Portsmouth, Peterborough, Fleetwood and you will have either Wycombe or Oxford (the two teams meet in the League 1 play-off final at Wembley on Monday). The Wycombe manager has done a brilliant job but he has done it on vastly increased finances compared to previous years and he has built it up over four or five years.

The opinion of assistant boss Paul Raynor will be important as Steve Evans looks at potential new recruits Picture: Ady Kerry
The opinion of assistant boss Paul Raynor will be important as Steve Evans looks at potential new recruits Picture: Ady Kerry

“I have a model, a strategy and a plan to see us improve in all areas of the pitch and that is what we are going to do.

“We need to be ready and it is no point coming in with seven players because it doesn’t matter how good I am, we’re not going to win.

“I don’t talk any type of finance to the players, that is left to (chief exec) Tom Lawrence and our chairman. My job is to talk football. The job is to improve us as a team and bring in a better quality of player.

“Finance is important to these boys but what is important if you are coming down a level or a young player in the Premier League maybe thinking of going to Gillingham on loan is has the manager seen me? Not just the chief scout. How many times has he seen me and where? Where is he going to play me? What’s the competition? Those are the questions the younger lads want to know and possibly the same as the experienced lads."

Gillingham could be back training some time towards the end of this month, if the 2020/21 season starts in September, so Evans is keen to get players lined up for when contracts can be offered.

He said: “If they tell us we are starting mid-September we would probably be in for pre-season training around the 24th/25th of July and that is not a long way away. We could be pre-season training in a couple of weeks.”

With that in mind, the Gills boss has already told those players who are in for pre-season to go and have their holidays now.

“The brief is clear,” he said. “Get some sunshine on your back, if you can, but obviously be careful. Get some sun and get focussed. The players have been off a long time and when they come back in it will be really hard because they have had so long off.”

Evans has said both Fuller and Hodson would be welcomed back, even though both have been told they wouldn’t be in his plans. Hodson’s representatives are understood to have been in talks with St Mirren.

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