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Jerry Gill - Cheltenham Town

Jerry Gill is already looking forward to a promotion push with Cheltenham next season as he reckons their young bucks will be even better next term. The 34-year-old former Birmingham and Northampton man is the only thirty-something on the Robins' playing staff for next year and wants an improvement after John Ward’s men ended the season in mid-table having flirted with the play-offs for long periods of the campaign. Ian Clarkson spoke exclusively to Gill about his hopes for next year, his business interests and the new contract he has got in his back pocket.

Q WHAT WAS YOUR VERDICT ON LAST SEASON?

A We were an 'almost' team last season. We were in and around the play-off zone all year but couldn't push on and get ourselves right in the mix. We didn't score enough goals and while we had a good defensive record going into the last two months of the season, you can only take so much and we leaked a few goals in our last few games. Our mid-table finish was probably just about right.

Q WAS IT A LITTLE BIT FRUSTRATING TO JUST FALL SHORT OF THE PLAY-OFFS?

A We have got a very young team – with the exception of me! When we reached October I thought we had a genuine chance so it would be fair to say we felt a little bit frustrated that we couldn't creep into the play-offs. We beat Northampton twice, Macclesfield twice and Southend as well, but we struggled against the bottom teams like Kidderminster.

Q HOW ARE YOUR OWN FITNESS LEVELS?

A I am 35 in September but I am still feeling really fit. Perversely, I think suffering the cruciate knee injury I did two years ago has really helped me prolong my career. It has given me a new lease of life as I have come back far fitter and stronger than ever before because of all the work I did during rehabilitation. Birmingham City helped me out massively as they let me use their facilities and treated me as if I was one of their own and I don't think I would have made the same recovery without their help. I ended up playing all 46 league games last year and I was absolutely delighted.

Q HOW HAVE YOU FOUND WORKING WITH JOHN WARD?

A John Ward is great bloke and a real man's man. He respects my age and quite often takes me to one side and speaks to me about players. It is nice to be able to give something back and it is nice that he respects my opinion as I am the oldest player by about seven years now. Hopefully, it is a two-way thing as I give it my all in every training session and try to set a good example for the younger players.

Q AND YOU WILL BE AT WHADDON ROAD AGAIN NEXT SEASON?

A I have got a one-year-deal with another option if I play 20 games. I didn't expect to play because they signed Brian Wilson from Stoke to play at right back for £50,000 but he has played in front of me all season on the right wing. We formed a good partnership and let's hope we can carry that on this year.

Q IS PROMOTION ON THE AGENDA AGAIN NEXT SEASON?

A We will definitely be looking for promotion this year and I think we will be all the better for our experiences of last season. It was the first time a lot of the lads had played at this level and they blew up a bit around Christmas time, as it is a lot to play 40 odd games in your first season. I think they will all come back stronger now and they will know what it is all about. We haven't got much cash to play with but I think the manager is going to try and bring one more striker in. If we can make a start like we did last season then we should be fine.

Q I UNDERSTAND YOU ARE INVOLVED WITH A BUSINESS OUTSIDE FOOTBALL TOO?

A I am director of a company called the LSA group and we offer exclusive support services for sportspeople and their families. It isn't just footballers we work with. Horace Palmer runs the business and he used to play cricket for Worcestershire so we have quite a few cricketers on board and we have just linked up with Michael Johnson of Derby. We just try and help people who need to find a way of bridging that gap between being a sportsperson and life afterwards and offer ideas and schemes such as business mentoring.

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