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Ramsgate defender Louie Procopi training with Gillingham following trial with Premier League Brentford | Stockport County also interested in the 17-year-old talent

Gillingham are looking at Ramsgate teenager Louie Procopi - but there’s also interest from another League 2 club.

Procopi, who had a trial at Brentford this summer, is training with the Gills, Rams manager Ben Smith has announced.

Ramsgate manager Ben Smith. Picture: Randolph File
Ramsgate manager Ben Smith. Picture: Randolph File

The 17-year-old has also been invited in for trials by Stockport County, and Smith believes it’s a matter of time before the defender makes a Football League move.

“He’s currently training with Gillingham and he’s had Stockport offering him trials,” said Smith, who handed Procopi a start in the Rams’ 3-1 FA Trophy win over Sevenoaks on Saturday.

“I expect one of these clubs to take him. He’s versatile, he’s athletic, he’s comfortable on the ball.

“I’ll be shocked if someone doesn’t take him.”

Clubs were alerted to Procopi, a signing from Thanet rivals Margate, after Brentford gave him an eight-week trial.

He’d potentially fit the mould for Gillingham who yesterday announced plans to step up their push to find the top young talent in Kent.

“I don’t think he disgraced himself at Brentford at all,” said Smith.

“Maybe he just wasn’t quite at the level they needed him at right now.

“Don’t forget, this kid hasn’t had any professional coaching, whereas the lads at Brentford have probably been in academies their whole lives.

“Louie’s had a lot to learn in a short space of time. You don’t just get thrown in and away you go.

“There’s lots that he’s taken away with him to build on to become a better player.

“I’ve got a message from him asking for footage from Saturday to look at areas he can improve in.

“The boy’s like a sponge. He’s willing to listen, willing to learn - he really wants to improve.

“He wants to keep improving and that will help him get to one of these pro clubs.

“It’s more about the process than the actual destination right now.

“He’s in our squad, so he’s got opportunities to play.

“He’s played in the FA Trophy, he’s been in our FA Cup squad, so I’m not frightened to play him.

“We’ve got more experienced players in front of him but his versatility comes in really handy.

“He seamlessly slots into a back three, right-back, centre-half, you name it.

“He’s got a lot going for him, let’s just say that.”

Procopi wasn’t the only youngster to feature as Ramsgate progressed in the Trophy.

They also started forward Wes Hennessey - another signing from Margate under-23s - while 16-year-old midfielder Tristan Holden - son of ex-Rams striker Scott - came off the bench.

“Wes knows where the net is,” said Smith. “He’s playing slightly out of position for us.

“We moved him out wide and he’s done a really good job.

“We’ve also given Tristan Holden his debut.

“He’s been patient, he’s worked hard.

“He’s got a lot to learn but he’ll learn a lot quicker playing with the likes of Lee Martin and Mike West than he would being stuck in the under-18s or under-23s somewhere.

“He’s one we made a decision to fast-track because we see a lot of long-term potential in him.

“He’s got TJ Jadama in front of him in his position and if he watches and learns from his movement, he’ll develop really quickly from being around that.

“We’ve got to show that we trust these players.

“He came on just after Sevenoaks got it back to 3-1, so it’s not like we’ve thrown him on with the game already won.

“The experience of being in the situation, knowing there’s pressure on the game, will only help him.

“I thought he did really well and he handled himself well.

“Young players are going to make mistakes - I know that - but ability-wise I completely trust him and I think he has a bright future. I don’t think he knows how good he can be.”

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