Released Crystal Palace player on trial at non-league club along with Bristol Rovers duo

Sion Spence found first-team opportunities hard to come by. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)Sion Spence found first-team opportunities hard to come by. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)
Sion Spence found first-team opportunities hard to come by. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)

Gloucester City are taking a close look at up to three players who were let go from Bristol Rovers and Crystal Palace last season.

The Tigers, who play in the sixth tier of English football, are managed by Gas legend Lee Mansell, who scored the decisive spot kick to get Rovers back into the Football League.

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In what is his first job in senior management after previously being Professional Development Coach at the Memorial Stadium, Mansell is looking for new recruits for the 2022/23 National League North campaign.

After winding down his playing career he made the transition to coaching and was offered a role by Darrell Clarke, so he has already built up a contacts book of players and now he is looking to put that to good use.

Kieran Phillips, Lucas Tomlinson and Sion Spence are all undergoing trial periods with the National League North club.

Spence, released by Crystal Palace after two seasons, was the only player that had a role in the first-team last season, though his opportunities were limited.

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The 21-year-old made 12 appearances in total for Rovers for the 2021/22 campaign, mainly as a substitute though and didn’t play a game from January onwards.

He scored goals against Walsall and Oxford United, but could not displace any of the attacking midfielders and the arrival of Elliot Anderson the task of breaking into match day squads even harder.

He had at League Two outfit Walsall recently, trying to persuade his countryman Mike Flynn for a deal, but is now trialling with a team two divisions below where he played last season.

Also hoping to do enough to cement a place at a new club is Bristol-born Tomlinson, who came through the academy from the age of 10 but was unable to hold down a spot.

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He is another one trying to get a permanent contract with Gloucester, though they will be fully aware of him.

Tomlinson was sent on loan to Gloucester in early October and remained there for the whole campaign, playing 31 times and scoring seven goals. His efforts saw him win the Young Player of the Year award.

Kieran Phillips, who never made a league outing for Rovers, but did excel out on loan, is the other player hoping to earn a deal after his exploits last season.

The 19-year-old scored 17 goals in 30 games in the Southern League last season for Swindon Supermarine, but was limited to just EFL Trophy appearances.

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As well as the three players he’s currently watching over now, Mansell admitted he was interested in bringing Chris Lines, who joined Bath City, to Gloucester

Speaking to Charlie Barnett, a journalist for Gloucestershire Live and the Non-League Paper, he said: I would have loved to have signed him, we were in talks, but Chris has got two young daughters and I understand that the northern league requires a lot of travelling.

“It would have been a very welcome addition. He’s a good leader, has got numerous promotions and we had a fantastic spell together. I think we’re a partnership that were never beaten.”

Former defender Daniel Leadbitter, who made over 115 appearances for the club over a five-year spell, is the other Gas contingent at Gloucester.

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