Published: 06:00, 11 July 2019
Summer signing Matty Willock knows what it takes to reach the top.
He’s seen quality at first hand, having been around the likes of Paul Pogba and Michael Carrick at Manchester United, and would love to be playing at that level.
Willock left United in the summer to sign permanently with Gillingham after a season on loan at League 2 Crawley.
It’s his time to show what he can do.
He said: “I was in the reserves there at Manchester United.
“I had some time when I was around the first team, made the bench a few times and I learnt a lot from being around such top players.
“Now I am here I want to work hard, carry on learning and hopefully I can push on with this club and go higher as well.
“There were loads of players there I looked up to, like Michael Carrick.
“Paul Scholes was our coach for a bit and Nicky Butt (was the under-23 manager). Pogba spoke to me a little bit and it was good to even just see them in training at that level.
“With players like Carrick, it’s like he just knows where everyone is before he even gets the ball and it’s good to have seen that.
“Hopefully if I can keep working hard and learning I can get to that level one day.”
Willock was highly thought of at Old Trafford but found his path beyond reserve team football blocked.
“I am getting older and I need to be playing,” said the 22-year-old.
“It’s the only way you can improve and show what you can do, when you are playing against men.
“I am happy to have played League 2 and now I have moved up to League 1. Hopefully I can show what I can do and kick on.
“Getting to the top is the dream and it’s why I have to work hard every day on improving. First off before I get to the top I have to do well here. That is the main thing.”
Willock had interest from elsewhere before joining the Gills, including former loan club Crawley, but an ambitious outlook from boss Steve Evans and chairman Paul Scally helped seal the deal.
“It’s a big year for me and a big opportunity,” he said.
“The club are looking to go places. I am excited and getting fitter and fitter with each pre-season game. I am excited for what this year is going
“The gaffer and the chairman said to me that as a club we are looking to move forward. We aren’t happy to just stay in League 1, we want to push on and that’s something I want to do.
“As a young player I want to go to a club with big aspirations and I am excited to get going.”
The box-to-box midfielder impressed at Faversham last weekend, scoring in a 9-1 victory.
He had a loan spell at St Mirren, in the Scottish Premier League, before the switch to Crawley in January but failed to score for either team.
It’s an attribute he’s looking to add to his game.
“Hopefully there will be many more to come,” said Willock.
“It was a decent hit and I have been working on it, hopefully more will come and finishes will get better.
“Goals are one of the things I need to work on and I was happy to have got one.”
*Senior pros Dean Parrett and Josh Rees were both in action for the Gills on Tuesday at Southern Counties East side Deal.
The Gills, who apart from the two senior players were made up of youngsters, lost 4-2.
Parrett – who scored a cracking free-kick against Deal – and Rees both missed the game at Faversham on Saturday and played on Tuesday while the rest of the first-team players started their pre-season training camp.