Published: 06:00, 24 March 2020
| Updated: 07:28, 24 March 2020
Football’s unexpected break could help midfielder Mark Byrne win himself a new deal at Gillingham.
The Irishman is building up his fitness after undergoing knee surgery at the end of 2019.
If football returns in June and July it may still be too earlier for the 31-year-old but it’s likely the following campaign will be delayed, allowing him the chance to return for a pre-season fully fit.
Boss Steve Evans is a big fan of the player and reiterated his desire for him to stay - if fit.
He said: “My hope was that Mark would always be back in for pre-season, for July, and to be able to join us and it’s looking like pre-season might be beyond that.
“I am sure Mark is looking at that and it gives him even more of an opportunity. The wee fella has got the heart the size of Big Ben, he is working so hard, he is getting on with it, he is so determined and he was simply outstanding in the time he was in the team for us. He was a loss for a few weeks afterwards when he went out.
“I would absolutely love to see him back in pre-season.”
Unless a financial backer comes in to assist - and there was talk of possible investment from the US last week - then the Gills will be operating on a tight budget again, not helped by losing money during the football shutdown.
It means that Evans will need to make every penny count.
The manager said: “There is no secret, and Mark will understand. What I will be saying to him is ‘you have been fantastic for us, just prove you are ready to play and if you are ready to play then there will be a contract sitting on the table.’
“He was simply outstanding and I know what when you have the heart the size of him, with the passion he has, then we want him back. But the other side of the coin is that every penny we spend means more to us than it probably means to others.
“We have less than the others, we have to make sure that every pound is a valuable pound but I am sure that Byrner will come back and show that he is 100% and if he is 100% he will certainly be getting an offer if all is being well and I am the manager.”
More by this authorLuke Cawdell