Steve Evans looks poised to miss out on one of his transfer targets, with Lincoln City set to beat them to a signature.
Cheshire Live reports that Evans has been eyeing a move for 24-year-old midfielder James Jones, who has recently been offered a new deal at Crewe Alexandra. It is suggested he is unlikely to remain in Cheshire, but that Gillingham are going to miss out despite interest.
Jones came through the academy at Gresty Road, appearing for two seasons in League One as well as throughout their recent foray into League Two. In 2016/17, he bagged 11 goals from 50 outings, prompting Preston North End to prepare a £300,000 bid. That move fell through due to injury, leaving Jones to establish himself all over again under David Artell.
The Crewe boss, who takes his side into League One next season, allegedly wants Jones to stay and has offered a new deal, but the midfielder is thought to be eyeing a move elsewhere. Gillingham enjoyed a resurgence under Evans and fought to their second-best finish since dropping out of the Championship 15 years ago.
That isn’t enough to entice the former Scotland Under 21 international though, who looks set to join Michael Appleton’s side in the coming days. They also had a landmark season, attaining their best finish since May 1984 by retaining third-tier status.
Both Gillingham and Lincoln had decent seasons last time out; The Gills might have put a late run together for the top six, whilst Lincoln were on course to survive a turbulent season. Hopes are high at both clubs for a better future, something James Jones could be a big part of.
Lincoln’s draw is coach Michael Appleton, one of the brightest outside the top flight. They’re currently building a young, agile squad for the new season. Jones might have been drawn to fellow Scot Evans, but having not plied his trade in the south before, the location could be a factor in the decision.
Either club’s gain is Crewe’s loss though; Jones got himself back into the side under David Artell and, on his day, is as good as any you’ll find coming out of League Two.