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Former Rangers and St Mirren defender Lee Hodson relishing League 1 football at Gillingham

By Luke Cawdell

Lee Hodson spent three and a half years in Scottish football’s top-flight but doesn’t see a move to League 1 as a step down.

Gillingham's 27-year-old right-back had two years at Rangers, inbetween half a season with Kilmarnock and the 2018/19 campaign at St Mirren.

He’s previously played League 1 football at MK Dons and knows what to expect having signed a two-year deal with the Gills this summer.

Lee Hodson in action for the Gills at Faversham Picture: Chris Davey
Lee Hodson in action for the Gills at Faversham Picture: Chris Davey

Hodson said: “Rangers is a massive club and I was playing infront of 50,000 fans at home games but the standard in League 1 is just as good as the Scottish Premier League.

“There are massive clubs in League 1 nowadays, the likes of Sunderland, Portsmouth and teams like that, they have been in the Premier League, there are massive games, Bolton as well and that is what you want as a footballer, you want to be playing at these stadiums, going there and getting three points and being competitive.”

Hodson, a Northern Ireland international, started last season with St Mirren in the same team as fellow defender Alfie Jones and midfielder Matty Willock. All three are now at the Gills as part of manager Steve Evans rebuild.

More on the Gills;

Evans is hoping to turn the Gills’ fortunes around in League 1 and Hodson hopes he can help.

The experience at MK Dons will help, as will several seasons playing Championship football earlier on in his career with Watford.

“We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves,” said the defender, who is now into his second week of pre-season training.

Lee Hodson (left) gives chase when playing against the Gills for MK Dons back in 2014 Picture: Barry Goodwin
Lee Hodson (left) gives chase when playing against the Gills for MK Dons back in 2014 Picture: Barry Goodwin

“We’ll get our heads down and work hard and then come the first game at Doncaster we will go to put in a performance and do what we need to do.

“It wasn’t a tough decision to come here once the gaffer spoke to me, I was sort of set, I had a few other options and I thought this was the right place for me to come and play my football.

“I am delighted to be here. I have heard great things about the club, it’s got a great fanbase, it is a great club to be at and it is moving forward.”

Gillingham players warm up before the pre-season friendly with Faversham at Salters Lane on Saturday. Picture: Chris. (13539169)
Gillingham players warm up before the pre-season friendly with Faversham at Salters Lane on Saturday. Picture: Chris. (13539169)

Joining a club heading in the right direction was important for a player who has previously won automatic promotion from League 1 with the Dons.

He said: “You want to come and win games and do as best you can for a club and I think Gillingham is in a position where they want to move forward. I wanted to be a part of that journey and I want to be a part of something successful.

“It was a no-brainer once I spoke to the manager about coming here to play my football at such a great club.”

Gillingham fans got to see the player for the first time on Saturday, playing the first 45 minutes in the 9-1 win over Faversham Town.

“It was nice to get another 45 minutes,” he said, having also played against QPR in the week.

Lee Hodson (2) on the defensive for the Gills at Faversham Picture: Chris Davey
Lee Hodson (2) on the defensive for the Gills at Faversham Picture: Chris Davey

“We knew what we had to do, we had to be professional and put on a professional performance because if we didn’t we could make it hard for ourselves but the lads applied themselves well.”

This week the Gills are facing a training camp ahead of the match at Folkestone Invicta on Saturday.

Evans has said the players will be tired by the end of the week but Hodson doesn’t mind a bit of pain.

“You put in the hard work now and you get the gains come the first game of the season,” he said.

Summer signing Lee Hodson with a Gillingham shirt Picture: Gillingham FC
Summer signing Lee Hodson with a Gillingham shirt Picture: Gillingham FC

“Everyone knows what pre-season is like and as a group we need to apply ourselves right. We know what we are in for and we take this hard work with both hands and come the first game of the season it will benefit us.”

Time away will also help the squad bond, with nine new faces so far this summer.

Hodson said: “We have a great bunch of lads here, they have made us new lads feel very welcome and there is a good togetherness which is what the manager wants.

“It’s a brilliant set up and great staff and we need to carry on the hard work for the next four weeks.”

Read more: The latest sports news from Kent

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