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Bonner keen to get pre-season started
Bonner keen to get pre-season started

Gillingham boss Mark Bonner has been in charge at Priestfield now for several weeks and is finally on the verge of meeting his squad face-to-face ahead of the new SKYBet League Two season.

The players will return to a much changed Priestfield for pre-season training starting on July 1st. 

Speaking to KSN this week, Bonner has been highlighting some of the changes and a natural eagerness to get started in his “new” job.

“It feels like I’ve been here ages now as it’s been a slow and long off-season,” the new boss told us.

“Everyone is ready to get going really especially now the Euros have started and there is plenty to watch on the Telly, we just want to get going!”

“We are two weeks away from everyone being back in – players are back on July 1st and the staff are back next week – we are nicely prepared I think; we’ve got a lot of work done in the time we have been here and by the time the players actually return, I’d have had the job two months!”

“It will feel like I have been here ages and not like a new thing for me! I think the timing has worked well for me and got me back into work and it allowed us to put lots in place already and I am really looking forward to getting started properly!” 

Bonner will be welcoming his back-room staff of coaches Anthony Hayes and Peter Gill to the Club along with returning keeper coach Deren Ibrahim, and the manager spoke of his new men.

“I’ve been really well supported by the Club in bringing in the people who I wanted to work with, which is important. It’s a new team which is really exciting – I’ve not worked with Anthony before, but have worked with Pete at Cambridge – I know both of them reasonably well, both are in a commutable distance from the Club, so location helped as it’s hard to be all in if you are too far away.”

“The chemistry of the team will be outstanding, I know that so as a team I think we will be very strong. Add to that James Russell as well with all things sports science and things like that, he really is exceptional.” 

“Having worked with Pete, I know that he will be excellent in terms of working with players individually. We do a lot of unit work and individual analysis and we need the staff to cover that, and I want a way of working that everyone is alive on the training ground – it won’t be one person taking the session, we try to coach for multiple outcomes in sessions so therefore it’s impossible for one coach to coach everything and allow the games and practices to flow.”

“So, to try and get that right we need the right people, so we do need the right dynamic.” 

“Anthony is an excellent coach with good experience throughout the League and has had experience leading teams, coaching teams, and has a varied CV as well.”

“We’re a young team, a dynamic team, but when we talk about the positivity we want and the fearlessness that we want to play with, the energy that we want to have, the personality that we want to adopt, I think we have a team that really well help to create an environment to do that!”  

“People at the Club are in and out at the moment with holidays and courses – flying to Germany and all sorts – it’s something that we are preparing the sessions in the first couple of weeks in real detail now.”

“Everything is coming together at the club – all the offices are now in one place which will really help us and we’re all looking forward to getting back to work properly – there’s a whole week of planning next week together and then we’ll see the players on Monday the first.” 

There will be some fresh faces in the Gills ranks when they report back in just under two weeks and the manager reflected, “I think in Aaron Rowe, we’ve got a one v one specialist really; he’s really direct, athletic, can carry the ball and has yet to have in terms of creation of chances or goalscoring moments, he’s yet to have THAT season, but undoubtedly has the qualities to have that,” Bonner told us.

“In terms of last season, it was his best in terms of games played – playing a lot of positions, seven, ten, eleven, and wing back, so he did a bit of everything.”

“If we can get him in wide areas more often than not and one v one with people, I think he really can help the team and help us up the pitch when we are in counter attacking phases and certainly get people off their seats when we want to be an attacking team and it’s tight around the box to create an attacking chance.” 

“Physically a really good signing for us; technically a really good player and they type of player that we didn’t have in the squad!” 

Continuing, Bonner turner his attention to Jack Nolan. “Another boy who has played wide; had a super season last year and has a wand of a left foot who’s brilliant for set plays; one of the top crossers in the League in my view and can score different types of goals – scored a lot of penalties last year, but on top of that scored a lot of good goals as well and assisted a lot too.”

“Very talented young player that took a couple of years to really get going in football and the move to Accrington Stanley worked wonders for him and last year was a really successful year for him in a difficult period for them.”

“He is at an age and stage – both are in fact – where they have played good football already now, but there’s still loads of potential in them and loads more to come.” 

“If you look across the squad, we have a large number of players aged twenty-three to twenty-eight which is like their prime years – full of energy and full of hunger which is what we want.”

“Signing the two I have mentioned gives us a different dynamic to the team if we want it and both can really help us in the opposition half…”