Gills Manager speaks of decision to make seven available on frees...
Martin Allen has explained his reasons for deciding to make seven of his players available for free transfer.
George Humber, Jack Evans, Alex Brown, Tom Brunt, Ross Flitney, Connor Essam and Ben Strevens are all free to search for other clubs, and during his midweek press conference the Manager spoke of how he came to his decisions.
He said: “We’ve been reviewing the amount of players that we have got here and trying to take a positive attitude, not just for the football club, but also for the players involved.
“It is probably the hardest day that I have as a football manager having to tell young people they are not going to get a contract, so I had to do that this morning [Thursday].
“When you have had days like we have had recently like the Barnet home game, which wasn’t a great day out, and then the great win at Southend.
“Knowing you have to come back in and face up to this was pretty horrible. So for George Humber, Jack Evans, Alex Brown and Tom Brunt I have spoken to them all face to face to explain the reasons why and I hope they see the opportunity and a pathway to go on and find another club and get playing.
“All four are great lads; I have no problems with them on and off the field – they are diamonds but I just didn’t feel they would be ready for us for next season so I decided to do it now so soon after the New Year rather than just before Christmas or during the festive period, I didn’t want to do it then.
“It’s not something I like doing but it’s been done.
“I don’t like it when we don’t play well, that hurts but the worst bit is the young lads. That’s horrible, they have dreamt of being footballers since five or six years old. Their mums and dads have taken them training probably twice a week and travelled all across the country to help them and it’s horrible.
“It’s the worst part of the job. I have been sacked enough times in my job and I know what it’s like being on the receiving end and god bless them they are all great lads.
“If they were your sons you would be very proud of them and they have given everything they have got but I don’t think it’s going to be for Gillingham long term and I have to make those decisions.
“I’ve had to keep it under my hat a little bit; today was the first and best opportunity. Those boys have been told which isn’t easy for them, and I’ve had further chats with Ben Strevens, Ross Flitney and a tough one in Connor Essam.
“With Ross and Ben they are both good professionals and good players. We find ourselves challenging to be champions and it’s been difficult to get Ben in the team or sometimes on the bench but he has so much more to offer as a player.
“With us having two strikers – Danny Kedwell and Deon Burton and then having Birchall and Weston it’s tough. I made that decision but if he doesn’t find a club then I am more than happy that he stays because the more players I have in the squad the better for us.
“With Ross he’s been injured but I have a very good combination between Carl Muggleton, Stuart Nelson and Tommy Forecast. They work very well together, there is a respect and an understanding of each other in their positions and how they go about their business and I think it has been very successful for the first six months and I have decided to continue that right through until the end of the season.
“Ross can play in development games, he can stay out on loan but I think with three weeks to go in the window of opportunity I felt it was best to be honest with all of these players, let them know now.
“Give them a chance and hopefully they can further their careers.
“Connor was probably the toughest conversation because he’s a good player and a great lad. He works hard at his game and has done well on loan at Luton, but with Leon Legge having signed a two-and-a-half year contract I felt his opportunities were going to be few and far between and I think it would be better for him to find another club.
“We have Callum Davies and Devante McKain coming through now and I think both of those will be top players and the future of our club personally.
“Connor has two years to go on his contract which is absolutely fine. If he stays here, continues to play and be involved the door is not closed. I will be delighted if he forces his way in to the first team.
“If we do let him go it will be on a free transfer and I will discuss this closely with Mr. Scally then there will be a 30% sell on. So if he were to go on, because he is still developing his body, and if does go on to do really well, which I believe he can, then the club’s interest will be protected with a good sell on clause.”