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Neil Harris meeting potential new signings and taking in games as he lays the foundation for a busy summer at Gillingham

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Manager Neil Harris is busy putting in the hours and the miles to put together a new-look squad at Gillingham.

Signings will be incoming but Harris - who was at the Kent Senior Cup final at Chatham on Tuesday - is making sure he does his homework properly on every one of the many new faces that are expected to arrive.

Talks ongoing for Gillingham boss Neil Harris. Picture: KPI
Talks ongoing for Gillingham boss Neil Harris. Picture: KPI

Harris has said he wants a 20-man squad but those players need to be able to meet the demands of a full season. Numerous injury issues beset the squad during the past campaign.

The Gillingham manager offered an update on how things were progressing.

Speaking earlier this week, he said: “There have been a lot of meetings with potential signings, agents like to put players forward, sometimes over phone or Zoom but I prefer face to face personally.

“A lot of work is going on behind the scenes recruitment wise, a lot of conversations with football clubs at different levels, manager to manager, sometimes football club to football club, to just ask about player availability and references on players.

“Due diligence is hugely vital and making sure we are patient and we don’t just go gung-ho on signing players. We need to sign them for the right reasons and if it means being patient then so be it.

“I am huge on references, I want to sign the right characters, if a player comes in and I get it wrong by signing the wrong player, if he doesn’t turn out as good as we would have hoped or he doesn’t have a good spell, or he is brilliant, what I won’t fall short on is getting the references to make sure we get the right characters for the team.”

Harris is busy taking in as many games as possible.

“It is a busy period for me, the players I am sure will be having a nice break but for managers and staff it is probably my busiest period,” he said.

With play-off games still taking place and many players contracted to their clubs until the end of June, signing announcements may not be imminent.

Harris said: “There might be a signing or two over the coming days, or weeks, but they might not be announced because of contracts. If you have a good relationship with a club you can announce early and come to a settlement, some clubs don’t like that so some players might sign or agree to sign in May but don’t get announced until the start of pre-season.”

As of Tuesday, none of Gillingham’s seven contracted players had offers from any other club. Harris said at the end of the season he didn’t want to keep them all.

The manager is confident of deals being done for youngsters Bailey Akehurst and Josh Chambers, however, but less confident on Robbie McKenzie signing a new agreement and is expecting Jack Tucker to leave.

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