December 9 2013 Latest news:
Friday, September 13, 2013
Sean Shields was the last Non League talent which former Daggers boss John Still took a chance on at Victoria Road.
The former Spurs youngster was brought in from St Albans City on a three-and-a-half-year deal, a sign of Still’s faith in the 21-year-old.
And though the manager which brought him in departed for Luton Town, the Enfield born man feels his game has come on leaps and bounds under Still’s predecessor Wayne Burnett.
“It was great for John to bring me in and I enjoyed it because it was my back in the professional game having played in Non League for the last season and a half,” said Shields.
“As soon as the new gaffer took over I feel like I have learnt so much off of him, Warren Hackett and Darren Currie in terms of it being a different approach.
“Our game has become a lot more expansive and I have been playing in a few different positions especially over pre-season and that’s great to add to my game. I think its important experience to get if you want to push on and progress.
He added: “It was my first pre-season back in the professional game as well and it was hard work but it’s the fittest I have felt in quite a few seasons which is great and at the end of the day you play your best football when you are fittest.”
Shields has a lot of competition in front of him in the current first team after Burnett brought in Zavon Hines, while the likes of Medy Elito, Billy Bingham and Abu Ogogo have all featured regularly to date.
And though he believes he has performed well in the chances he’s been given, he is determined to give manager Burnett another selection dilemma.
“It’s always been my aim to kick on with the Daggers,” he added. “The gaffer has brought in a lot of good players this season. I have been training hard and I think I have been doing well in development games and in training. Hopefully now I can push on with my club.
“It’s a tough team to break into but at the end of the day all I can concentrate on is myself in the games I play whether it is for Ireland or Daggers. I just have to keep doing the best I can and hopefully break through.”
While he hasn’t been getting much game time with the Daggers, he has featured twice for Northern Ireland under-21s.
In May he came off the substitutes’ bench in the second half in their 3-0 defeat to Cyprus in a European under-21 Championship qualifier.
He did so again on Monday, as a half time sub for Stephen Robinson’s side in Belgium, one of the top ranked sides and the Irish did themselves proud, only going down 1-0 after Standard Liege’s striker Michy Batshuayi’s 44th minute goal.
Shields admitted it was one of the toughest games he has played in, but hopes the experience stands him in good stead.
“It was a real positive performance from the players,” he added.
“To come on at half time was nice and to get that experience under my belt playing against some of the top players in the world at the age group, I really enjoyed it.
“The manager was happy with the display we put in and at the end we were probably quite unlucky to not take something from the game.
“I played in Cyprus in May but Monday’s game was a lot more intense with Belgium moving the ball quickly along the back, knocking it into midfield and you had to be alert. It’s the highest intensity game that I have played in for sure.”
He continued: “ In my first 20 minutes I felt like I got a bit of freedom and quite a bit of the ball and it was positive going forward. Then Belgium applied quite a bit of pressure towards the end and it was quite difficult tracking their players as their left back liked to bomb on a lot so for the final third of the game I felt like I was playing more of a defensive role.
“It was tiring but I can only take positives from the game after playing at that intensity and testing yourself against top players.”
And if all goes to plan, Shields will feature for the Irish in the return fixture on October 11, but more than anything he’d love to start putting on a Daggers shirt more often.
Hull City manager Steve Bruce believes that Arsenal have the ability to win the league this season.