Versatile forward joins from Championship club QPR

Gillingham have today signed versatile forward Jay Emmanuel-Thomas on a season-long loan, just over 24 hours before the start of the EFL League One season.

The London-born Arsenal academy product, who can play as a winger or a striker, joins from Championship club QPR. He is available to play in the club’s season-opener against Southend United on Saturday.

“I’m here to help the club get as high as possible in the league,” he said. “I want to score goals, excite the fans, and show people what I’m good at.

“I had a great conversation with the manager; we spoke in great detail about what he wants to do at the club. That was exciting to hear, and it’s even more exciting to be a part of that. 

“The squad is good here, the boys looked sharp in training, and I can’t wait for the opening game at Southend tomorrow.”  

Emmanuel-Thomas signed a professional contract with Arsenal in 2008, having captained their under-18s team at the age of 16. He made his first-team debut for the north London club in January 2010, in an FA Cup fixture against Stoke City.

This appearance followed a loan spell with Blackpool, and further short-term stints at Doncaster Rovers (five goals in 14 appearances) and Cardiff City attracted the attention of Ipswich Town, for whom he signed in July 2011. 

Two successful seasons at Bristol City saw Emmanuel-Thomas score 33 times in 103 games, and he won the League One title and Johnstone’s Paint Trophy with the west country club in the space of two months in 2015.

Last season, Emmanuel-Thomas made 15 appearances for QPR, scoring five goals, and another four during a loan spell at MK Dons. 

"This is a great signing for the club," said manager Justin Edinburgh. "As an attacking player, he gives us great options for the forthcoming season, and I know fans will love watching him.

"He's a player of Championship quality, so adding him to our squad is a massive coup for the club, and I have to thank the Chairman for working tirelessly to secure his arrival."