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An update from Neil Harris

Gills boss Neil Harris provides a recruitment update.

24 May 2022


An update from Neil Harris

Gills boss Neil Harris provides a recruitment update.

24 May 2022

The manager has provided an update on how recruitment is progressing over the off season.

Gillingham manager Neil Harris has confirmed that Robbie McKenzie will not be staying at the Football Club for the 2022/23 season.

McKenzie, 23, was offered a new deal by the Gills following the conclusion of last season but the player has decided to move on. Discussions are ongoing with Jack Tucker and Ben Thompson.

As for players coming in, the boss revealed some strong progress has been made but announcements may have to wait for a short while.

He said: “Firstly, Robbie McKenzie isn’t going to stay with us next season, he is going to move on to pastures new. I have thanked him for his services and we have to accept that if someone doesn’t want to be here then they are not going to be.

“Obviously I won’t talk about names [coming in], we haven’t announced anything contractually player wise. With potential new signings, yes a lot of activity, not where anyone has put pen to paper that we are ready to announce, but sometimes activity is ruling players out as well as getting players to sign on the dotted line.

“I feel like there has been a lot of progress in the last week or so in particular. I am quite relaxed with it now, having looked at the market I have spent a lot of time speaking to agents and managers within the division, and the leagues above and below, realising that not a lot is happening.

“There is a lot of jostling for players, understanding who is available and who isn’t, and building relationships. I have spent a lot of time travelling around the country meeting individual players and representatives; it’s been interesting for sure, it’s hard going putting in the hard yards but we’ll get the fruition in the end.

“As for incomings, nothing to announce on camera. Progress? Yes, bundles in the last seven to ten days.”

The manager is realistic on the possibility of Jack Tucker and Ben Thompson returning to Priestfield for the new season, but he is in regular communication with both.

He added: “Jack is ongoing, I have been very clear and honest with everybody that he is likely to move on. As much as I’d love to have him at the Football Club, realistically, we are not going to keep him even though we have made the contract offer.

“Thommo [Ben Thompson] was on the retained list because legally we have to. I spoke to him last week to see how he is getting on just in general. Ben knows, as a Football Club, we are huge fans and we would love Ben Thompson to be at the Football Club but he is a good player, as we know, and have to accept that he might play at a better level than League 2 next season.

“While there is a chance, I will always be hopeful just because of the relationship I have with him, but it’s a real long shot and we’ll have to see what happens.

“I have to keep communication lines open, but then also with players that are really realistic I need to keep pushing them forward and I’ve had some really good conversations. I have really enjoyed getting out to games too; last Tuesday I was at the Dartford v Folkstone game in the Kent Senior Cup.

“I thought that was important because I wanted to go to the game but I thought it was also important to see some local sides and players. I met a lot of people from the Kent FA, managers and representatives from both teams to build rapport and relationships in the local area.

“We have announced we are playing Dover and Folkestone in pre-season and it’s vital for me, and paramount, that we build relationships with the local clubs.

"I watched four teams in the League 2 play-off games, and ultimately three of them will be in our division next year so it’s important to get eyes on them and understand the quality of the division and players that might be available who are playing in the fixtures – it was a very worthwhile experience going to those three games.”

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