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Gillingham keen on permanent deal for QPR defender Conor Masterson after second loan at Priestfield

Conor Masterson showed his quality in both boxes on Saturday - no wonder the Gills are keen to keep him beyond the current loan spell.

The Irish centre-half impressed at the back end of last season despite relegation and when the Gills had the chance to sign him again from QPR in January they jumped at the chance. He's been a top performer again.

Conor Masterson scored Gillingham's second goal against Tranmere on Saturday
Conor Masterson scored Gillingham's second goal against Tranmere on Saturday

Masterson will be a free agent in the summer and will be a player the club are keen to bring in on a permanent basis.

While on loan this season he’s helped Gillingham to five clean sheets in his 10 appearances and got on the end of a Shaun Williams’ cross to seal the win over Tranmere Rovers on Saturday.

He first joined the Gills last season, in January, with seven clean sheets from 18 appearances in a team that were relegated from League 1. Manager Neil Harris previously noted that the young defender - now 24 - hadn’t made a mistake for any of the goals they conceded as they dropped out of the division.

Masterson was involved in the QPR first team at the start of this season - playing against Watford in the Championship - but it looks like he’ll be leaving the London side in the summer and the Gills, unsurprisingly, will be at the front of the queue for his signature.

Director of football Kenny Jackett spoke about the defender at the recent fans’ forum, saying: “We have all been very impressed, he did well last year when the club made a real good fist of staying in League 1, it has been a good partnership with Max [Ehmer, a QPR old-boy himself].

“He is out of contract at QPR in the summer and is a player we are strongly interested in, definitely.”

Jackett and Gills' head of recruitment Andy Hessenthaler are already looking at next season and where they need to strengthen.

“Every day we are making a constant assessment,” Jackett said. “We have meetings, look at contractual situations and work in that our own youth guys, current squad and targets, and to be able to marry those three, that is a constant assessment.

“We do want to improve every window, evolve is a good word that’s been used. Come this summer we do 100% want to improve.”

Decisions on how many of the youth team stay on could depend on whether the Gills will be running an under-21/development team next season. Talks are under way over a potential training venue and the club will have to weigh up the many additional costs that will be involved.

Next season the Gills will have the likes of Josh Chambers, Ike Orji, Jayden Clarke and Joe Gbode pushing to get involved with the first team.

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