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Gillingham 15:00 Southend

GILLS MAY BE FORCED TO SELL

By Stephen Bateman.   Last Updated: 03/12/01 2:53pm

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DESPITE an excellent recent run of form, Gillingham manager Andy Hessenthaler is believed to be under pressure to trim his playing staff's wage bill.

Chairman Paul Scally revealed in his programme notes for Friday's home match with Birmingham City that the club will be withdrawing their shares from the OFEX trading market, saying "it has not worked for us" (the shares were floated on OFEX at 30p and are currently valued at under 10p), having previously admitted that the new Medway Stand and its facilities has cost far more than he ever anticipated.

Defensive stalwart Guy Butters has recently gone on the transfer list after the club failed to offer him a new contract.

However, with Aston Villa defender Jlloyd Samuel, who was on loan at the Division One outfit, being recalled by John Gregory, a lack of cover in that area may help the former Spurs man's hopes of earning a new deal.

Marcus Browning, Mark Saunders and Iffy Onuora are other players who will be free agents next summer unless they agree new deals.

Experienced professionals such as Ty Gooden, Paul Shaw and Mark Patterson are currently finding first-team outings hard to come by and the Kent club may find it difficult to resist offers for these players.

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