Gillingham striker Lewis Walker is out injured for the rest of the season and Scott Kashket is missing too but deadline-day recruits Tristan Abrahams and Aiden O’Brien have beefed up the Priestfield attack

Gillingham striker Lewis Walker is out injured for the rest of the season and Scott Kashket is missing too but deadline-day recruits Tristan Abrahams and Aiden O’Brien have beefed up the Priestfield attack

Lewis Walker’s season is over and another Gillingham forward is out for weeks after injury – leading to a deadline change for Tristan Abrahams.

Gills manager Neil Harris explained the surprise loanee of 24-year-old Abrahams and gave an insight into the hectic final hours of Tuesday night’s transfer deadline.

Lewis Walker is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury

With both Walker (knee) and fellow forward Scott Kashket (groin) injured, Harris knew he needed another forward, but with tight money – financial fair play meant even novice Gills couldn’t go crazy – and time was running out , they turned to a forward Harris had signed over the summer.

Abrahams was about to leave and warm up for Eastleigh when they faced Barnet in the National League that night.

Harris said: “We wanted to be light up front – two guys who might have helped us (got injured) this season – so it was important that we added at the top of the pitch.

“We didn’t think Tristan was an option but it quickly became apparent just before he was about to take the field for Eastleigh. He had to rush here at around 9.15pm to start his medical.

“It was left field, accidental how it came about, but we’re really glad we did it.

“I spoke to Tristan quite early in the summer and watched some of his games. For some reason it didn’t materialize in the summer, that was fine.

“When it was brought up on deadline, it was really coincidental that it was available on loan because we were at a point where we wouldn’t be paying people fees for a variety of reasons, including financial fair play but also (the Owners) Brad and Shannon Galinson have invested heavily over the past four weeks.

“We had credit available. We went that route and it was a reasonable deal.

“Tristan has tremendous experience at this level and above and for a 24-year-old who has played over 200 games in professional football and made 110 starts – 30 goals – it’s a good return.

“He’s something in between what I have and had the potential to get better too. First of all, it is a loan and we will assess it over time.”

Tristan Abrahams (left) and Aiden O'Brien joined the Gills on transfer deadline day Image: GFC
Tristan Abrahams (left) and Aiden O’Brien joined the Gills on transfer deadline day Image: GFC

The Gills, meanwhile, managed to agree a loan deal for Aiden O’Brien from Shrewsbury.

Harris said: “He’s someone I know particularly well, he’s been very impressive in the past, someone who lives very close by here in Kent. He wanted to come home with the family, he hasn’t played much football at Shrewsbury lately and needed a fresh start.

“We have to be patient with Aiden, he’s behind the players we’ve already signed and where they are in terms of minutes played. Aiden was important to us because he gives us versatility and protection when we lose one of the front players.

“He’s an attacking player who runs forward and has an eye for goal and sniffs out chances, creates and scores. He must have the potential to be very good at this level.”

Walker had only just returned to the Gills after suffering a knee injury in an FA Cup game against Dagenham but is out again – this time for the season.

“It’s similar to the last one,” said the manager.

“I’ve talked a lot about Lewis over the past few weeks and we’re losing him just after we got fit again. It’s a shame for him as he has developed well for us and is just starting to show his qualities, it’s a real blow.”

Kashket will have his groin injury checked – which was also discovered in training. Harris doesn’t expect to be able to call him up to the squad for at least the next few weeks.

Harris said: “Both are contactless, really miserable for both of them and miserable for us.”

The Gills have already ruled out Ben Reeves for the season, while Olly Lee is unavailable due to medical reasons and Harris said Jordan Green will not play for them again. Bailey Akehurst, Josh Chambers, Jayden Clarke and Ethan Coleman are all considered players of the future, although they could all still play a role this season.

The January window closed with 10 signings from the Gils, including the two on the final day. They were also for Peterborough left-back Joe Tomlinson but he went to Swindon Town instead.

It’s been a good month for the club.

Harris said: “I am pleased with the deal we have done and great credit goes to Kenny Jackett (Director of Football) and Andy Hessenthaler (Head of Recruitment).

“(Former owner) Paul Scally must also be commended for his help, he was a huge help, lots of contacts and communication skills to close deals and Brad and Shannon for the financial support and enjoyment of the acting transfer window.

“We feel like we’ve added good players, good stats, for the right reasons, in positions that we needed to strengthen or change, also with the potential for players to stay with us longer, guys who are coming in after 18 months or two years ago. One and a half year contracts or also the short-term contracts with a view to the future are very satisfied.”

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