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Why Gillingham need to make the most of a busy summer

How Gillingham’s summer transfer business will dictate their status in the coming League 1 campaign

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Gillingham will be gearing themselves up for the 2018/19 campaign with the hope that Steve Lovell’s side can improve last season’s 17th placed finish.

Another year of League One football is on the cards for the Gills, who now, after two years of mediocrity, will be entering the upcoming season with some fears.

The 2015/16 campaign was the last time there was a genuine belief at the Priestfield Stadium that playoff football could be achieved, as Gillingham finished in ninth, five points adrift of the top six. The last two years haven’t been the best, with relegation a possibility.

Next year it has to be different, but the key to Gillingham’s success over the next 12 months is going to be what they do in this summer’s transfer window. Of course, there are some big teams in League One, with Portsmouth, Charlton Athletic, Bradford City and now Sunderland and Coventry City, all big hitters in the third tier.

Gillingham won’t have the biggest budget in the division, but they need to be shrewd with the deals they do this summer. They’ve already made a good start, with Dean Parrett agreeing a two-year deal with the Gills and Reagan Charles-Cook also arriving.

Another place they could begin to look is the Championship, where there are a number of clubs with exciting academy prospects but, such are the riches of earning promotion from the Championship to the Premier League, very few are risked and left playing under-23 football or in the lower leagues on-loan.

Aston Villa, for example, came close to Premier League promotion, with Steve Bruce’s side losing the 2018 play-off final. Bruce built a squad of experienced players, including the likes of John Terry and Robert Snodgrass. However, at Villa Park, supporters are desperate to see some of the club’s talented academy given a chance. If that chance doesn’t come, Gillingham could do far worse than taking a look at someone like Callum O’Hare, regarded as Jack Grealish’s long-term successor.

Currently, Gillingham are priced at 15/8 to be relegated with bet365’s football betting market, after two years of flirting with League One’s bottom-four.

Of course, that could all change as the summer ticks on, with Lovell surely looking to add to his squad ahead of next season. The importance of strengthening can’t be stressed enough, with League One shaping up into an extremely competitive league next season.

If momentum begins to build at the likes of Sunderland, who are entering the season fresh from takeover and Jack Ross’ arrival as manager, they could be on to something special. However, the third-tier is going to be a difficult division to call.

Gillingham being among the favourites for relegation shouldn’t be a surprise given their form in recent years. Now, it is down to the club to get the right personnel on board to take them up a gear for the coming campaign.

It’s impossible to say that adding quality on-loan and permanently will turn Gillingham into contenders, but they should be encouraged by Shrewsbury Town’s efforts in 2017/18.

For now, Gillingham need to be working hard in the transfer window to get the right personnel into the club. It’s a challenge that faces every club across the country, but the transfer window is so important.

As tight as League One will be in the race for promotion, it will be the same in the fight for survival. What Gillingham do in the coming weeks and months will define which group Lovell’s side are fighting in.