The Daggers currently sit in fourth position in the National League, three points behind third-place Tranmere Rovers, who still have two games to play. With eight games left of the season and the Championship out of their grasps, the east Londoners will hope to maintain a play-off spot for any chance of returning back to League Two.
In an interview with Rising East, Daggers manager John Still told how the Daggers have struggled this season due to a few midfield absentees.
The first player Still cited was last season’s first choice captain Andre Boucaud, who is currently unavailable, after being called up for international duty with Trinidad and Tobago. “In some of the games I think we’ve lacked, we haven’t got Bouc’s [Boucaud].
“And when you look at that situation we haven’t got Luke Howell quite yet, we haven’t got Matt Robinson, we haven’t got Luke Guttridge, these are massive players”.
The Daggers have struggled without their key players this season, as seen in their recent shaky form; they have won only one game in their last five. Still acknowledges that the main factor has been the lack of midfielders: “It has been a miss for us for a lot of this season, if I’m being honest.”
Back in training
Still is hopeful that he can get his midfielders back to full fitness as the team have a busy time ahead to reach the play-offsL “They [players] are back now, Matt Robinson, he’s back in training, Luke Howell he’s back in training, Luke Guttridge is back in training.”
The experienced Daggers boss will monitor these three key players performances on Tuesday where they will all play in a reserve team match:
“You have to be very careful, they are people who have been out for a long time and it’s how you bring them back, they are valuable players, if you look at Robinson who I thought was outstanding for us, Luke Guttridge who I think has been outstanding for us, Bouc’s has been very good, you add Luke Howell to that.”
Still’s men have now lost two away games in a row in the space of three days, the first at the hand of Barrow and the second to Aldershot Town. Still rejected the suggestion that tiredness played a part in the defeats: “These players are fit, I don’t think tiredness is the reason” he said. “It was a long long journey there and a long long journey back.”
The east Londoners know that Still is the right man for the job after signing a contract extension last week. Despite his experience, he acknowledged that it will be a tough run for the club:
“I’ve been saying to the players all season, you know I’m old and I’ve been in this situation and I’m not bragging here of having won this league three times and other leagues.
“So you know every game, every point, every goal, everything is important that the only plus that we will be looking at now is having players coming back for what is going to be a difficult run for everybody”
The Daggers recently signed Elliott Romain from National League South side Eastbourne Borough. Romain played his first game in the 3-1 defeat to Aldershot Town. Still will be looking to change his tactics after playing the majority of the season with the same formation, which is starting to make the side look too predictable:
“He’s [Romain] coming in full time training, you know, getting him used to it,” Still said. “He’ll have a part to take, we all like him a lot, will give us an opportunity to play 4-4-2”
The Daggers will hope to push for the play-offs as they host relegation candidates York City on Saturday 25th March.