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Former Dagenham player Will Wright and Brentford B team recruit Dom Jefferies arrive at Gillingham with lots of potential

Manager Neil Harris sees big potential in recent signings Will Wright and Dom Jefferies.

Jefferies, 20, arrived at Priestfield last Thursday after being released by Premier League Brentford while defender Wright - who has just turned 25 - was Harris' first summer signing.

New Gillingham recruits Will Wright and Dom Jefferies. Picture: Gillingham FC
New Gillingham recruits Will Wright and Dom Jefferies. Picture: Gillingham FC

Harris will hope both make an impact in League 2 next season and beyond.

Jefferies captained the B team at Brentford and was their player-of-the-year although he never made it into the first-team and was released this summer.

“He is an exciting prospect that the fans are really going to enjoy watching develop over a period of time,” said Harris.

He comes into a midfield department that lacked youth, with Olly Lee, Stuart O’Keefe and Shaun Williams all in their thirties.

Jefferies, who scored eight goals in the Brentford B side, will help with that blend.

“He brings youthfulness, legs and energy to the midfield area where we have real experience and guile already,” said the Gills boss.

“We think he has got a lot of potential to develop with us.”

Jefferies isn’t the only one with bags of potential.

Versatile defender Wright is at the right age to keep improving. He was an ever-present for Dagenham in the National League last season where he captained the side.

Harris made him his first signing of the summer and said: “He has huge potential and should excite people because of his age and his background of coming from a pro club and then non-league route. He has real development in him.

“I saw him play three times at the end of last season and I was more and more impressed each time I saw him.

“(Recruitment manager) Nicky Shorey had seen him, David Livermore (the assistant manager) had seen him before me and they are much better judges of defenders than I am!

“We like him, we see potential and growth and development in him that really excites us.

“He is a defender with real ball-playing qualities, he is a great size and shape, 6ft 2inch but not overly physical or dominant in the air at the moment.

“I would liken him to probably a Robbie McKenzie type, slightly similar age, good footballer, comfortable at centre-half and full-back, possibly comfortable in the middle of the park as well. We think he has the attributes to play there, he hasn’t done it yet but we see that development in him.

“We think he is integral to how we play, we want to be a big, physical Gillingham side that is hard to play against but we want to be able to handle the football as well. We see Will [as] really important in being able to do that and versatility is really important.

“I played a back three last season for the first time in my career, as a manager and player. I prefer a back four, I have to be honest, but in the modern game you have to be adaptable.

“If I need to be adaptable between a three or a four then someone like Will Wright gives us that adaptability.”

Wright may be adaptable but Harris has earmarked him for the right-back role, if he goes with his preferred four-man defensive unit.

Harris said: “First and foremost I probably see him as a right-back because athletically he is good, we can make him better. With the football he is excellent and his deadball delivery is a joke. Fans should look forward to seeing that, his delivery into the box, which is excellent.

“He is not going to be top end of the pitch Cruyffing people, flicking it over people’s heads, he is not that kind of player, he is a footballing full-back but also has the capabilities of playing right-side of a three-man defence and we think in time to play in a centre-half pairing.

“Whether the start of the season is too soon we will have to see, but we have not ruled anything out with him, anywhere across the back and holding midfield.

“When you are forced to work with a tight squad budget-wise, having versatility is going to be crucial for us.”

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