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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 December 2007, 19:41 GMT
Bentley welcomes Stimson regime
By Mark Mitchener

Mark Bentley
The gaffer will probably look to add more signings in January

Gillingham midfielder Mark Bentley
Gillingham midfielder Mark Bentley insists new boss Mark Stimson is right to have brought in several non-league players to lift them up the table.

Bentley made his name in non-league with Enfield, Aldershot, Gravesend & Northfleet and Dagenham & Redbridge before moving to Southend in 2004.

"I played against them in my non-league days - they're hard workers," he said.

"They've settled in well and if we can add that extra bit of quality, there's no reason we can't go up the league."

Stimson arrived at Priestfield on 1 November, a fortnight after resigning as manager of Stevenage - and has already brought in seven loan players, many of whom he has managed at Conference level during his time at Stevenage and Grays.

606: DEBATE
BBC Sport's Mark Mitchener
Deals have already been agreed to bring some of them to the Kent club on a permanent basis once the January transfer window opens.

"The gaffer will probably look to add more signings in January so we've got a big squad and we've got a good team spirit," Bentley said.

"A few people have said 'I can't believe he's brought in non-league players', but that's where I'm from originally.

"When I made the step up from non-league, I found it a big step up from part-time to full-time, but I lost a bit of weight and got a bit of sharpness."

Stimson's dedication to raising his players' fitness levels has also been well-documented in recent weeks but Bentley, who turns 30 next month, feels it has already improved the squad.

STIMSON'S NEW LOAN RECRUITS
Defenders: Adam Bygrave (Reading), John Nutter (Stevenage)
Midfielders: Adam Miller (Stevenage), Stuart Thurgood (Grays)
Forwards: Shabazz Baidoo (QPR), Leroy Griffiths (Fisher), Dennis Oli (Grays)
"We probably weren't fit enough at the start of the season when we were getting rolled over 4-0 or 5-0, but that isn't happening any more," he admitted.

"The gaffer has brought in more of a work ethic - I thought we went a bit stale after Ronnie Jepson left as it was quite a while before the new manager was appointed.

"He's brought in some winners from some good Conference clubs. They're good players who should be playing at this level.

"But he's just willing us to get the ball down and play - he's not in your earhole if you make a mistake.

"We're doing all sorts of different stuff in training, including 'Terror Tuesdays' - but I've felt stronger than I was before."

Usually a midfielder, Bentley was thrust into an unfamiliar central defensive role in Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Bournemouth because of the Gills' injury list.

"We've got centre-halves out injured at the moment, and I didn't have a problem with it," he said.

"But I can play in different positions, I can play up front and I think I was the second goalkeeper last year too!

"I just want to play football - it's better than sitting on the bench."

Gillingham's Priestfield Stadium home
The away form's a bit of a hoodoo at the moment

Mark Bentley
As well as improving his squad in terms of numbers and fitness, Stimson's next task must be to improve on one of the worst away records in the country, which has threatened to drag them into a relegation scrap.

After 20 games, the Gills have taken 18 points from a possible 30 at home - but only four from a possible 30 away from Priestfield.

"We were disappointed to lose last week to Port Vale who were bottom of the league, and then came to Bournemouth who were bottom of the league and hadn't won at home," Bentley said.

"Our keeper Simon Royce pulled off a few great saves to keep us in the game, but we couldn't capitalise on the chances we had.

"Now we're looking over our shoulder as teams below us have closed the gap.

"But everything's positive with the gaffer - he didn't want us to get our heads down after this defeat.

"The away form's a bit of a hoodoo at the moment, but we go to Brighton on Friday, it's a local derby and hopefully we can come out on top."

SEE ALSO
Gills boss rues Dean Court defeat
16 Dec 07 |  Gillingham
Bournemouth 1-0 Gillingham
15 Dec 07 |  League One
Armstrong welcomes new Gills boss
14 Dec 07 |  Gillingham
Stimson to get Gills fighting fit
25 Nov 07 |  Gillingham
Gillingham capture Stevenage pair
23 Nov 07 |  Gillingham
Thurgood seals Gillingham switch
22 Nov 07 |  Gillingham
Gillingham sign Reading defender
20 Nov 07 |  Gillingham
Gillingham sign Oli and Griffiths
12 Nov 07 |  Gillingham
Gills unveil Stimson as new boss
01 Nov 07 |  Gillingham


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