Bonner’s in no rush to complete Gillingham squad rebuild

Gillingham manager Mark Bonner has three new signings through the door but is in no rush to complete his summer business.

The additions of striker Elliott Nevitt, midfielder Armani Little and winger Jack Nolan mean the Gills are well on track to refresh last season’s squad, but Bonner is happy to takehis time in the transfer market if it means getting the right faces in.

Gillingham manager Mark Bonner has time on his side Picture: Keith Heppell

Players return to pre-season training on July 1 and Bonner will still have another six weeks before the League 2 season kicks off on August 10. The official transfer window runs from Friday, June 14 to Friday, August 30 (11pm).

While Bonner’s been looking to add extra attacking options to his squad, he has four players on the books who are available for transfer. Things could change during pre-season, too, when the new manager gets a proper look at the players he’s got to work with.

“I have never known a club to have their squad wrapped up by July 1, ever,” said Bonner.

“I think there is an unbelievable panic when someone hasn’t been signed in the first or second week of May and that there is an issue. People are on holiday for a start, secondly they have quite a few weeks of getting paid on their [existing] contracts before they have to worry about where they go next.

“The first thing anyone wants to do is actually go away. I am the opposite because I am desperate to get to work and get started and we are probably impatient in that regard.

“But you have to understand that these are big decisions and you don’t want people to make a snap judgement for a decision that is such a big one.

“If people come here they have got to want to be here and they have got to want to be what we want them to be. If that takes longer to get those, then no problem.

“I am really comfortable with the progress we have made so far.

“Will all of our business be done by July 1? Absolutely not because the other consideration is I haven’t met these players yet. I haven’t taken a training session with them yet and I haven’t seen them play a game live in my team and in my style and the way I want them to play.

“Pre-season is a great opportunity for everyone to show where they are at and if they can contribute the way we want them to. The scope is always there to change the squad and the dynamic but we are starting to build a squad that is quite well balanced.

“I am quite excited by the progress that has been made. I am really calm that we are in a good position for the time frame and that we have got plenty of time yet to make changes as and when we feel it is the right thing to do.”

Managing director Joe Comper said this week, prior to Nolan’s arrival, that deals with more new players are well down the line.

“We have all-but done more business already but obviously with players on holiday we can’t announce anything until they have come and signed on the dotted line and [have] done a medical,” he said.

“We have been very quick with our business this year. We have hit the ground running and we’re really pleased with where we’re at.”

The Gills are looking to move on a quartet of players with George Lapslie, Ashley Nadesan, Oli Hawkins and Scott Malone available for transfer. Dom Jefferies hasn’t signed a new deal, either.

On the four made available, Bonner said: “I think the most important part of the process is being upfront and honest with people. If game time is going to be limited then I think it is only fair to say that to people and that’s the situation we find ourselves in. If an opportunity comes for those players to move on, it gives us an opportunity to make changes in the squad, which we want to do.

“I am sure they are on people’s radar. It is probably a bit early at the moment for people to jump into something. I imagine that will unravel over the next month.”

Jefferies, 22, is out of contract but the offer of a new one is on the table and means any club wanting him will have to agree a fee or pay compensation.

Bonner said: “He is another player we have shown good interest in. He has been offered a contract some while ago and it is his to think on.

“He is a player that we like and that is an ongoing situation which we expect will find its conclusion relatively soon. There has to be an end point but there isn’t a fixed point to that, we will see how that unfolds.”

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