Published: 06:00, 11 May 2021
Gillingham manager Steve Evans has indicated that he would like some of their loan players back for good.
Several loanees made a big impression on Evans this season and he’ll be keen to see if there is any chance those players will be available this summer.
Olly Lee is at the end of his contract with Scottish side Hearts and their manager Robbie Neilson - who led the club to the Championship title this season - has already said the player’s future under him lies elsewhere.
Lee signed on loan for the Gills in mid-January and featured in every game up until the end of the season, scoring five goals, including the equaliser at League 1 champions Hull City.
Defender Robbie Cundy is highly thought of at Bristol City and in March the club announced that they would be taking up the option of extending his contract for an extra year. Whether they are willing to loan him out for another spell next season remains to be seen.
Cundy quickly developed a good relationship with Jack Tucker at the back for the Gills.
Southampton’s Tommy O’Connor signed a deal at St Mary’s until June 2021 after he captained their under-23 side. Since then he has enjoyed two loan spells at the Gills, making 62 league appearances over the last two campaigns under Steve Evans, filling a variety of roles.
In the final two games of the season 22-year-old O'Connor partnered Tucker in central defence and looked at ease in a role familiar to him from his time spent in the junior ranks at Southampton. His versatility is sure to make him a worthy summer acquisition.
Midfielder Callum Slattery, 22, another Southampton player, was highly rated by Evans after bringing him to the club in January. He was limited to just seven appearances before returning to St Mary’s injured.
In July, 2019, Slattery signed an extended deal at the Premier League club that keeps him there until June 2022.
The Saints may feel another spell on loan will benefit him next season and Evans is sure to be in the queue if they do. Slattery, a former England youth international, has previously played on loan at De Graafschap in the Netherlands.
The Gills boss is already looking at potential recruits for next season, although talks with chairman Paul Scally over his own future are ongoing.
Evans said: “I have spoken to the key people at Bristol City and the people at Hearts, they are making decisions on those lads early next week, same at Southampton with Tommy.
“We lost the boy Slattery through injury and he did well but we need to let their parent clubs make decisions before we can in any way take a stab at bringing them back, but Cundy, Lee, O’Connor and Slattery since January they have been terrific, absolutely terrific.”
Evans is expected to be out scouting during the play-offs and is also planning a trip to his native Scotland to take in a game.