Olly Lee returns to Gillingham
Lee has returned to Gillingham for a third spell | Photo By Ben Stansall - AFP via Getty Images

Gillingham have completed the sining of Hearts midfielder Oliver Lee on loan until the end of the season.

The news

Lee is Gillingham’s third signing of the January transfer window following the captures of Tyreke Johnson and Callum Slattery, and is perhaps the most high-profile of the three.

He is available for selection for Gillingham’s trip to Accrington Stanley on Saturday, and has been assigned shirt number 11. The deal is subject to EFL and international clearance.

His record

Lee is a face Gillingham fans will recognise, with the midfielder having played at Priestfield twice on loan before.

After making his way through West Ham’s academy, Lee made his professional debut on loan at Dagenham and Redbridge before temporarily joining the Gills in February 2012, when he made seven appearances in Medway.

After leaving West Ham, the now-29-year-old had spells at Barnet, Birmingham City, Plymouth Argyle and Luton Town - the latter he made over 100 appearances for.

He signed for Hearts in 2018 but rejoined the Gills the following year under Steve Evans, and scored twice in his first game back in a 5-0 win against Bolton Wanderers.

He went onto play 33 more times last season for the Gills, scoring four times in his spell. He returned to Hearts after the League One season was cut short, and has played 15 times for them this season, picking up three goals and five assists - all assists coming in 10 games in the Scottish Championship, which Hearts currently top.

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He is now back at the Gills, and is expected to play a vital role for the rest of the season.

What it means

Lee’s experience will be vital for the Gills in what is a young squad. He will take some pressure off captain Kyle Dempsey in midfield, and will add attacking talent to a squad struggling in front of goal at the moment.

He is a natural fit in attacking midfield, and will slot into Gillingham’s XI sooner rather than later.

Reaction

Gillingham manager Steve Evans said: "I am delighted to bring back a player who was outstanding for us last season.

"Olly is a top class player, a brilliant professional and brings some class to our attacking play.

"The lad had numerous options in League One but when I rang him he made it clear if we could agree loan terms with Hearts, we would be his first choice."

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson said: “Olly’s contract is up at the end of the season and after some very amicable discussions between both parties it was decided that he would move on.

“Olly has a young family and the opportunity to return to Gillingham allows him to go back down south and be closer to his family, so we wish him well.”

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