Published: 06:01, 04 August 2020
| Updated: 20:30, 04 August 2020
Gillingham’s preparations for the 2020/21 season have started in earnest.
Players were back at the club on Tuesday, four and a half months after the Covid-19 crisis forced them to down tools, with nine games left of the 19/20 campaign.
Boss Steve Evans had been itching to get what’s left of his squad together. The Gills are all systems go following news that the new season is due to begin on September 12.
Gills’ last league game was on Saturday, March 7, a 2-2 draw at Sunderland. There game the following week was suspended and days later the players were sent home from training ahead of a national lockdown.
Players returned for face to face meetings with Evans in June, as the manager informed them who was and who wasn’t part of his plans going forward, but apart from that they’ve had to keep on top of their fitness remotely.
Evans has a much-trimmed squad to work with to start and any training over the next few days will take place with strict Covid-19 protocols in place. There are plans for a training camp, with Evans checking out facilities in France and also considering a trip to Scotland.
His first summer recruit Ryan Jackson bolsters a threadbare squad that numbers only 10 senior contracted players although midfielder Mark Byrne is expected to take part in the pre-season as he looked to win a new deal. He ended the 2019/20 season recovering from injury.
Two of Evans’ squad, Lee Hodson and Barry Fuller, have been told they are free to look elsewhere for football. Hodson was a target for SPL side St Mirren but they kicked off the 2020/21 season on Saturday without him.
Regan Charles-Cook, one of the players who has left the Gills this summer, made his first league appearance for new club Ross County, appearing as a substitute in a 1-0 win over Motherwell.
Gillingham’s League 1 rivals Portsmouth, meanwhile, have snapped up Sean Raggett on a free transfer, agreeing a two-year deal with the defender after his release from Norwich City. The Gillingham-born 26-year-old previously played for Dover.