Gillingham, compared to most teams, had a quiet transfer deadline day.
One of the most underwhelming days in the footballing calendar saw one in and one out of the doors at Priestfield, although the story could have been oh so different. Here is our roundup of the 24 hours of February 1 in ME7.
Gillingham’s one incoming on deadline day was James Morton, who joined the Gills on loan from Championship side Bristol City until the end of the season. The 21-year-old central midfielder returned to City following a loan spell at Grimsby earlier this season where he made nine appearances.
𝗕𝗥𝗘𝗔𝗞𝗜𝗡𝗚 🗞️ | #Gills have completed the signing of @BristolCity midfielder, 𝗝𝗮𝗺𝗲𝘀 𝗠𝗼𝗿𝘁𝗼𝗻, on loan for the rest of the season. ✍️— Gillingham FC (@TheGillsFC) February 1, 2021
👉 https://t.co/4jQCxUpwXQ. #WelcomeJames #DeadlineDay pic.twitter.com/5G1pbJUNTO
He has been given squad number six, and joins fellow City loanee Robbie Cundy at Priestfield. He is available for selection for the Gills’ game against Lincoln City on Friday evening.
His arrival means Gillingham now have their full quota of loan players - five are allowed in a match day squad, and that number is made up of Tom O’Connor, Callum Slattery, Olly Lee, Cundy and Morton.
Midfielder Jacob Mellis departed Gillingham late into the night on Monday, joining Southend United on a permanent basis.
The attacking midfielder made 10 appearances for Gillingham after joining in the summer, scoring one goal - a brilliant finish at home to Oxford United early on in the season.
It seemed the former Chelsea man would be an important member of Gillingham’s side going forward, but he picked up a knee injury towards the back end of 2020 and never really recovered.
VAVEL understands Mellis was being assessed on a game-by-game basis at Gillingham before requiring surgery on the issue in the summer. That now, however, could be Southend’s problem - he is there until the end of the season with the club having the option to extend the deal.
There could have been more going both in and out at Priestfield on deadline day.
VAVEL understands Gillingham manager Steve Evans also wanted to add a striker and a winger to his squad, but neither arrived.
Evans told Gillingham’s website: “There were a number of things on the go, involving one player out and two in, but sadly we could not do the numbers involved to add to the group.
“There was considerable interest in five of our squad and I am obviously pleased the chairman turned down those offers down. We have the lowest resources in League One so we must all ensure we spend them as wisely as we can.”
The Southend Echo reported that Mellis’ new club, Southend, failed with a late loan attempt for John Akinde, “but a deal could not be completed before the transfer window closed."
Meanwhile, Pete O’Rourke reported that “Gillingham turned down multiple approaches from Charlton for winger Jordan Graham."
Evans didn’t rule out the possibility of adding free agents - which can be signed outside the transfer window - to his group, telling the club website: “Our talks with a couple of players will continue, but we can only play what we can afford.” A large sigh could be heard, however, around Medway when Gillingham’s official twitter account posted “yes you can” when asked if fans could go to bed at 23:40.
On Morton arriving, Evans told Gillingham’s club website: “James is a very talented lad. He has signed a four-year contract at Bristol City so it demonstrates how highly thought of he is there.
“The lad has a brilliant left foot and gives us some wonderful balance in the middle of the pitch. Our supporters will love this lad and I am delighted he has chosen us over two clubs currently in the top six of League One.”
On Jacob Mellis departing, Evans told the club website: “Jacob is a quality player and a wonderful person so it goes without saying we all wish him every success.
“He joins a very good club in Southend, one fighting for EFL survival, and he will help them.”
Finally, when questioned on is January business, he added: “There is no doubt we are much stronger.”