Five key Gillingham players in the 2015-16 League One season

Spread the love

Glenn Morris – Goalkeeper

With the departure of fans favourite Stuart Nelson, it looks like Morris will be taking the no.1 shirt at Priestfield (maybe not literally).

The 31 year old was a summer signing under Peter Taylor last year as understudy to Nelson. But a few mistakes from Nelson (the one that sticks in the mind was the decisive howler gifting Port Vale a 2-2 draw in November) coupled with solid performances from Morris in the back-end of last season mean that the ex-Aldershot stopper is now set to enjoy an extended spell with the gloves.

Morris played 11 games for the Gills last season, ten in the league with one of those coming from off the subs bench with two clean sheets. He is an experienced pro which will be vital in the coming season. Gillingham’s expected defence of Egan (22), Ehmer (23), Garmston (21) and Jackson (24) is very youthful and he will be expected to marshall the younger players in front of him to add solidity and a sense of calm.

There was enough seen at the end of last season to promise a successful season for Morris which will be integral in keeping a rock-solid, stable back five.

 

Ryan Jackson – Right wing-back

Jackson was a signing this summer from Justin Edinburgh’s old club Newport County, having played over 50 times for the gaffer.

Right-back has been a long-standing problem for Gillingham which has not been properly occupied since Barry Fuller, although Matt Fish was a standout performer for the Gills in the Championship winning season (2012-3). A string of loanees and stop-gap replacements such as Jermaine McGlashan have filled the position ever since.

Jackson promises flair and speed down the wings which will be vital if Edinburgh implements his favoured 5-3-2 formation. With Garmston operating down the other flank his performances could be key to adding much needed width to the Gillingham attack and getting crosses in for the strikers.

A slight worry is that Jackson is untested at this level; he has mostly operated in the Conference and League Two. However it is clear that he has all the assets to make it in League One and hopefully he will be a strong presence throughout the season.

 

Jordan Houghton – Defensive centre-midfielder

Edinburgh’s most recent signing, the captain of the Chelsea u21 side last year, is on the face of it a very exciting signing for Gills fans on a six month loan.

Houghton describes himself as operating “predominantly in a holding role but [he] can play box-to-box”. He promises aggression, energy and hopefully composure on the ball with an eye for a pass.

It will interesting to see how Houghton gets on in his first season in men’s football at the tender age of 19. But the CDM role is another that Gillingham have struggled with for a long time. Gregory, Loft and Morris have all been failures in that position lacking the ability to control the play and add bite to the midfield.

Like Glenn Morris, Houghton will be expected to shield the back four and add an extra layer of protection whilst also contributing in an attacking sense.

 

Bradley Dack – Attacking centre-midfielder

2014-15 was the breakthrough season that Bradley Dack had been promising with his incredible goal scoring stats in the youth team. He made 50 appearances for the Gills, including his hundredth for the club, and notched 10 goals, an impressive return for the young midfielder.

With flowing hair, Dack is the epitome of grace on the ball and is the flair player for Gillingham. With the ability to pick a pass, he picked up many assists as well as proving to be hugely combative in the field; always being a contender for first yellow card of the game, with nine throughout the season.

With, on paper, a slightly thin strike-force, the pressure will be on Dack to chip in with goals as well as providing the front two with plenty of support and ammunition. If he steps up to the plate, a key central position for Gillingham will be filled with one of the brightest talents in the League.

Rory Donnelly – Striker

Rory arrives from Swansea with a point to prove. Having beaten Liverpool to his signature from Cliftonville he has failed to get close to the starting XI at the Liberty. At the age of 23 he is reaching a critical period in his career where goals are a necessity for the Irishman.

A well-taken finish in his pre-season debut is a good start but he will need starts and goals to prove his worth. In an attack formed of McDonald, Williamson and Norris he should get his chances alongside Cody but it is time other strikers started to ease the burden on McDonald. However should all these players hit the ground running then a core of Egan, Ehmer, Garmston, Loft, Aaron Morris and McDonald should be enough to challenge for a top six position.

They are signings and developers that have hugely excited the Gillingham faithful which all bodes well for the start of the season. Sheffield United await on August 6th and there will be few sterner tests at Priestfield so there is an immediate chance for all to stake a claim for the rest of the season.