It is my job to put in place the best possible first-team squad for season 2020/21 and of course do that within the resources provided, says Gillingham boss Steve Evans after issuing his retained list

Thursday 11th June 2020

GILLINGHAM manager Steve Evans has issued his retained list and warns further tough decisions have to be implemented in line with the strategy set out by the board of directors.

The Gills were in eleventh-place in the League One table with 51 points from their 35 league games at the time of the season being called to a halt by the coronavirus outbreak.

A club statement said: “Following two full days of talks with each individual first-team squad player, manager Steve Evans has confirmed there is much work still to be done.

“Further, he stated it was essential that a date for season 2020-21 was confirmed by the EFL to enable the Gills to move forward and plan accordingly for the new season.”

The Priestfield Stadium outfit confirmed that John Akinde, Jack Bonham, Barry Fuller, Lee Hodson, Connor Ogilvie, Stuart O’Keefe, Jack Tucker, Joe Walsh and Matty Wilock are all under contract for the 2020-21 season.

“Barry Fuller, who activated his option for a further year with the Gills, has been told he is free to find a new club should he decide to do so,” added the statement.

“Barry’s performances throughout the season have been excellent but as a group, and individually, we are implementing a strategy that will see the core of the group being younger players.

“Lee Hodson has been given permission to continue his discussions regarding a permanent move to SPFL Premier team St Mirren, plus one other EFL opponent.”

Regan Charles-Cook, Max Ehmer, Brandon Hanlan, Mikael Mandron and Henry Woods are out of contract.

“The club will make a final decision regarding any proposed contract offer following a board meeting on 19 June or the date that the commencement of the 2020-21 season is formally announced by the EFL,” added the statement.

“In the event that Brandon Hanlan, Regan Charles-Cook or Henry Woods decide to leave the football club than we would reserve the right with compensation payments.”

Meanwhile, Mark Byrne, Ousseynou Cisse and Ben Pringle have been released.

"Our supporters should note that I have invited Mark Byrne for pre-season training and that will give him an opportunity to prove his match fitness levels and earn a contract,” said Evans in a statement.

Loan signings, Jordan Graham, Alfie Jones, Olly Lee, Tom O’Connor and Jordan Roberts have all returned to their parent clubs.

The staff will individually meet with Evans on Monday 15 June to discuss their futures.

However, it has been announced that goalkeeper coach Simon Royce will leave the club when his contract expires next month.

Evans added:  “There is much work to be done following two days of meetings. My next priority is to meet with the football staff on Monday and, given these unprecedented times, further tough decisions have to be implemented in line with the strategy set out by the board of directors.

“It is my job to put in place the best possible first-team squad for season 2020/21, and of course do that within the resources provided.

“We will be unified as a staff, players and entire football club, thus not forgetting our supporters who are the most important ingredient of all. We now need to ensure that our recruitment for the new season is outstanding and much work behind the scenes has already, and will continue, to take place.

“Our chairman (Paul Scally) continues to work round the clock to ensure a pathway forward for the Gills in these most difficult of times football has experienced, possibly in its history.”

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