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2 August 2012

On loan defender looking for experience

Gills defender Tom Flanagan says he is excited about the prospect of playing at MEMS Priestfield, and wants to do his part in keeping the club in the top half of the table.

The 20-year old centre-back arrived from MK Dons on a six month loan deal on Monday, and is expected to play some part against Charlton Athletic in a pre-season friendly this coming Saturday.

Addressing the media on Thursday he said he was looking forward to the challenges that lay ahead.

He said:  “I’ve only been on loan somewhere else (Kettering Town) and that was two years ago in the conference, so to come on loan to a club in the football league is a completely new experience and I’m looking forward to it.

“It’s that time of year when you really earn your money and you’re in for longer periods but that’s what you base your season on. All the lads are nice; I knew a few of them from playing against them so that made things a bit easier.

“I’ve never played at Gillingham so hopefully this Saturday will be my debut, and a good one at that against tough opposition.”

Charlton were promoted to the Championship last season after winning the League One title, and the young defender believes it provides a great chance to show other teams in the division what they are capable of.

He said: “I played against them last year with MK Dons and they ran away with the league and they will only have built on that so it won’t be easy.

“If we can get a result and set our stall out then there will be people watching who will start to think as Gillingham as promotion contenders which is what everyone in the changing room and the staff want.”

Flanagan admitted he wasn’t keen on joining a club who were likely to be fighting for survival, and is hoping to replicate with the Gills what happened with MK Dons last season.

The Dons reached the League One play-offs but were beaten at the semi-final stage by Huddersfield, but being near the top of the table is something Tom is hoping to experience again.

He said: “I wouldn’t particularly want to go somewhere that was scrapping for their lives – it could happen here, I hope it doesn’t but if it does it’s just another challenge but with the amount of games we were playing last year we were in the top two or three all season and that’s not easy.

“It’s possibly maybe harder because people try to park the bus, but I think we have a good enough team here from what I have seen in training to be able to break teams down. We are passing the ball well, we are fit as anything which has got a lot to do with the staff working us hard.

“When at Christmas time when you need to kick on that’s when it will come to the forefront of how fit we are.”

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