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Gillingham manager Neil Harris keen to bolster squad with loan recruits

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Gillingham will once again be making full use of the loan market next season.

The Gills had mixed success on the loan front under former boss Steve Evans, who also maximised the number he could have, with teams allowed five in a matchday squad.

Loan defender Conor Masterson helped Gillingham's defensive record after arriving from QPR Picture: KPI
Loan defender Conor Masterson helped Gillingham's defensive record after arriving from QPR Picture: KPI

The loan route gives clubs like Gillingham access to up-and-coming higher level talent.

Goalkeeper Jamie Cumming from Chelsea was the standout loan player last season but opted for a move to a better team in MK Dons for the second half of the campaign. QPR’s Conor Masterson also showed good potential as he helped tighten up the Gillingham defence from February onwards.

Dan Phillips (Watford) showed glimpses of class inbetween his three red cards that hindered his progress while QPR striker Charlie Kelman enjoyed himself more in his second spell, under Harris. Tom Dickson-Peters (Norwich) didn’t make the impact he would have wanted while goalkeeper Pontus Dahlberg (Watford) was second best to Aaron Chapman in the battle for the no.1 spot following Cumming’s departure.

“The loan market will be huge for us again this year,” said boss Neil Harris.

“I would have thought we would maximise the loan market as much as we can. We can have five loans in the matchday squad and that is very realistic. There has been lots of conversations and I have been to a lot of games.

“There might be ones where some clubs would like them to go out on day one and be settled and learn how a manager wants to play, get to know the group so they have a better chance, while some want to have a look at them over pre-season and then maybe loan them out.

“Whatever loans we do has to be right for Gillingham Football Club first and foremost, the loans help them develop and let their parent clubs use us to develop them but the bottom line is if they want to play in my team it has to be right for us here.”

Harris is also likely to be bringing in trialists throughout the pre-season campaign, allowing all parties to have a closer look before committing. As always, there are no shortages of players looking for opportunities.

The Gills manager said: “Lads realise that if they want to earn the top wages they want to earn then sometimes you have to earn the right and if it means they have to take themselves out of their comfort zone for a couple of days and if you back yourself to do it you are in a healthier position.

“Agents also understand for people to have an opportunity they sometimes need to showcase their talents, so if they are in it for the right reasons I am not opposed to taking players in on trial. I am not a fan of it during the season, not at all, I don’t like unsettling the group but pre-season modern day football is understandable.”

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