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Gillingham boss Neil Harris wants to bring in centre-back before transfer window closes

Gillingham manager Neil Harris wants to bring in at least a centre-back before the transfer window closes.

It’s taking Harris’ new-look team time to adapt and they lost 2-0 on Tuesday at home to Harrogate in League 2.

Gillingham boss Neil Harris watches on as his team are beaten by Harrogate. Picture: Beau Goodwin
Gillingham boss Neil Harris watches on as his team are beaten by Harrogate. Picture: Beau Goodwin

But Gillingham now have two more matches at Priestfield to plan for, taking on Walsall this Saturday in the league and then facing League 1 Exeter next Tuesday in the Carabao Cup Second Round.

“The window shuts in two weeks so, if we are going to do any more business, we will have to do it quickly,” said Harris.

“The problem is attracting the players. To get the right players, we have had to be patient. We have moved heaven and earth to get 14 or 15 in so far.

“We need to get at least one more in.

"I can’t put a time-scale on it, obviously, but the sooner the better for me as a manager. I need a centre-half.”

Further up the field, Gillingham have signed winger Hakeeb Adelakun who joined on a season-long loan from League 1 Lincoln on Monday, and made his debut against Harrogate.

“He’s a player we have chased for a long time,” Harris explained. “He has ball-playing ability, he has individualism that makes him creative and we saw his spark on Tuesday.

“He can handle the football. He’s a player that needed to get out to play regular football. He’s local-ish so it ticks a box in the sense that he wants to be near family.

“We wanted to bring him in to give us a spark at the top-end of the pitch.

“At the top-end of the pitch, we have a little bit more. We need to gel, that’s clear.

Experienced midfielder Shaun Williams. Picture : Keith Gillard
Experienced midfielder Shaun Williams. Picture : Keith Gillard

“Jordan [Green], Mika [Mandron] and Scott [Kashket] are all off the mark this season goals-wise but we just need to be a little more reliable in that area and share the goals around.

“You can’t be chasing the game all the time, you need to give the attacking players a base to build from.”

Weekend opponents Walsall have enjoyed a better start and they have taken seven points from their first four league games, although they were beaten 2-1 at Barrow on Tuesday night. In contrast, the Gills have picked up only three points from four league fixtures.

Gillingham’s boss is keen for a response against the Saddlers but, having been encouraged by some of his side’s attacking play, he expects them to win more matches than they lose if they put in displays of a similar level.

He said: “This was the start of a big week and we didn’t want to lose the first one, for sure. It’s making sure we respond.

“But if I get that level of performance with the football, we are going to win more games than we are not going to win, that’s for sure, home and away. But we have got to make sure we are so much better without the ball.

“If we are done on the counter-attack because we have thrown caution to the wind and dominated all the ball, it happens. But we haven’t been [on Tuesday], it’s just two basic restarts again that have cost us.

“Players generally need to step up and do better.”

Experienced midfielder Shaun Williams missed out totally in midweek and Harris explained his absence was due to a foot injury he picked up before their 3-0 weekend defeat to Tranmere.

Explaining his injury, Harris said: “He has a little bit of ligament damage in his foot - very unlucky.

“He did it before the game actually in the warm-up on Saturday but insisted on playing, and needs-must at the moment because Stuart O’Keefe wasn’t able to compete for much longer than he did on Saturday and we had to be careful on Tuesday as well.

“Willo has a chance for Saturday possibly.

"If not, it’s not a long-term one.”

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