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Gillingham manager Steve Lovell plotting to compete with League 1's finest next season

By Craig Tucker

Steve Lovell sees an opportunity for Gillingham to push on in League 1 next season.

Summer recruitment will be crucial to boss Lovell's plans, assuming Gills pick up the few points they need to stay in the division.

He's seen little between the top and bottom sides, with Gills proving at times they can mix with the best.

Gillingham manager Steve Lovell Picture: Ady Kerry
Gillingham manager Steve Lovell Picture: Ady Kerry

Few tipped Luton for success in their first year up from League 2 but they look set to win the title and that shows it's anyone's game.

Lovell said: "It's been a more open league than I thought.

"Getting the right players in makes a difference.

"It's going to be an important summer for us regarding our recruitment and getting players in to compete with the better teams in our league and that's what we need to do because there's nothing between the teams in the league, nothing at all.

"We've beaten Portsmouth twice and we've had two good games against Sunderland.

"All right, we lost 4-1 and 4-2 but there's not a lot between the games if you look at them overall.

"We drew with Luton and gave them a good game here, so there's not a lot in it.

"It's a matter of us finishing the season strongly and putting together a squad of players next year where we can compete with the better teams.

"It won't be completely different but obviously you've got players here who are going to be out of contract, players who'll move on and I've got players I'll be bringing in.

"After this summer, most probably it'll be the first time I'll have my own group of players that I've brought in to the football club or have asked to stay.

"It'll be nice to go into next season with that.

Gills drew 2-2 with champions-elect Luton Picture: Ady Kerry
Gills drew 2-2 with champions-elect Luton Picture: Ady Kerry

"Once the season's finished and we're OK and in a decent position, then we can start building."

Gillingham could be safe after the Easter weekend, hosting Plymouth today and visiting bottom club Bradford on Monday.

One more win should do the job and that's no mean feat given a club the size of Bradford are on their way down.

But Lovell said: "You don't look at it like that.

"OK, you want to stay in League 1 but you want to improve every year.

"I think we finished 17th last year so anything above that is an improvement.

"That's something I'm mindful of.

"For me personally, and all our staff, we want to finish higher than we did last year.

"That's something we want to aim for but ultimately the first aim is staying in this league.

"We will be doing our utmost to try and get as many points as we can between now and the end of the season.

"If we can finish around the halfway point that would be fantastic."

Read more: The latest sports news in Kent

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