IF you weren’t paying attention on Thursday you missed an awful lot.
Mid-season transfer windows usually come and go with precious little activity at Priestfield.
But the arrival of midfielder Steven Gregory on Wednesday, shortly after defender Leon Legge signed from Brentford, took Martin Allen’s squad size to 31 and something had to give.
Cue the departure of four players, the loan departure of one, with another likely to follow, and three heading for the exit door on potential free transfers.
And all this amid rumours of a major signing to bolster the strike force, even if the manager is staying pretty cool on the subject.
So if you weren’t paying attention, then here’s how we stand after a frantic start to the January transfer window.
Boss Martin Allen was hoping to bring in David Wright from Crystal Palace, on a permanent deal rather than a loan, but the Gills were unable to match the demands from the Championship club and so in came Steven Gregory.
He played in the same AFC Wimbledon team as Danny Kedwell as they returned the original Dons back to the Football League in 2011. Allen stepped up his interest in Gregory after sitting in the stands and watching Gregory captain Wimbledon (while there on loan) during their recent FA Cup game against bitter rivals MK Dons.
And the Gills didn’t even need to part with any cash after Gregory was released by Bournemouth on a free just before Christmas.
Allen saved his players from a miserable Christmas by choosing to wait until the festivities were over before delivering the news to those he felt were not going to make the grade.
Making it as a League 2 players is not enough anymore, as Allen said in Thursday’s press conference.
“Everyone that comes in has got to be able to challenge in League 1,” said the Gills boss.
“There is no point in bringing in squad players. Our young players are coming up to fill those gaps and what comes into the building now has got to be good enough to do it again next season and challenge at the top.
“We are not going there (League 1) to make the numbers up, we aren’t going up there to play around with relegation, we can go up there and smash it again; that’s what we are aiming to do.”
So Allen had the task of telling Tom Brunt, Jack Evans, George Humber and Alex Brown that their futures lie elsewhere. All were released.
“One of them (Tom Brunt) told me it was his birthday when he walked into the blinking office!” said Allen, who described the task as being a “horrible” experience.
Allen had bad news for some of his more experienced pros as well.
Striker Ben Strevens, keeper Ross Flitney and defender Connor Essam have all been made available for free, although all will remain Gills players and the door hasn’t been close on any.
Strevens has four strikers infront of him in the pecking order and, contrary to several rumours, all are set to see the season out for the Gills.
“Those four are staying right the way through to the end of the season,” said the Gills boss.
Flitney started the season injured and there is little chance of shifting Stuart Nelson from the number one spot. But even Allen admitted letting Essam go will be tough.
He knows the defender has massive potential and will slap in a 30% sell-on fee if anyone wants him. He is contracted to the Gills until 2015 and Allen said: “The door is not closed and I would be delighted if he forces his way in to be first choice.”
Two more players face time away from the Gills, but with differing reasons.
Bradley Dack is only 19 and has plenty of potential but Allen was keen to get him some game time so contacted Conference Premier side Braintree to see if they would take him. Their manager Alan Devonshire didn’t have to think long, especially as he has got him for virtually nothing.
And lastly, on a frantic day at Priestfield, it looks as though Lewis Montrose has played his last game for the Gills. His contract expires in the summer and he is set to join another club on loan until the end of the season. The deal has yet to be completed so Allen wanted to destination to remain quiet for now.
So that’s it for now, although those asking about Cody McDonald will be interested to here what Allen had to say, so here you go.
“I don’t really know Cody that well,” said Allen. “I know what a good footballer he is but I don’t know what his situation is at Coventry, I just don’t know.
“My priority has been to get a centre back in place of Tom Flanagan and my priority was to get a central midfield player in the position that David Wright was playing.
“It was like a new signing to give Adam Birchall his (league) debut at Southend. He is like having a new centre forward in so I am not banging Mr Scally’s door down to get a new centre forward.
“With regards to that player I am not specifically saying yes or no but what I will say is that I do ask Mr Scally about players and about how we can improve, what we can do to improve, who can we get to improve us, how much it will cost. When he says no I am fine, we just carry on working.”
It’s been a busy start to the January transfer window and it wouldn’t be a shock if we see a little more action before the end of the month.