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Comment: Corey Whitely deserves to be named Dagenham & Redbridge player of the season

PUBLISHED: 16:00 26 April 2017

Corey Whitely in action for Dagenham & Redbridge (pic: David Simpson/TGS Photo)

Corey Whitely in action for Dagenham & Redbridge (pic: David Simpson/TGS Photo)

©TGS Photo tgsphoto.co.uk +44 1376 553468

The 25-year-old has been talismanic for Daggers this term and should be rewarded on Saturday

Corey Whitely was paraded on the pitch at half-time against Southport after joining Dagenham & Redbridge (pic: David Simpson/TGS Photo) Corey Whitely was paraded on the pitch at half-time against Southport after joining Dagenham & Redbridge (pic: David Simpson/TGS Photo)

Fewer things will come as little a shock as when Corey Whitely will surely be crowned Dagenham & Redbridge player of the season on Saturday.

Cast your mind back to August when the 25-year-old joined, though, and that may not have seemed the case.

Announced at half-time on the opening day of the season, most fans were revelling in the news of Paul Benson’s return rather than Whitely’s addition.

Fans had to wait until the fifth game of the season, away to Woking, for their first sighting of Whitely.

Corey Whitely celebrates his winner for Dagenham & Redbridge at Eastleigh (pic: David Simpson/TGS Photo) Corey Whitely celebrates his winner for Dagenham & Redbridge at Eastleigh (pic: David Simpson/TGS Photo)

How fitting it is, then, he will receive the player of the season award after the return clash against the Cards.

In the press box at the Kingfield Stadium that day, a Woking journalist commented after the former Enfield Town man came on in the 72nd minute that “Whitely looked spritely”.

Indeed he did, and again so against Wrexham the following game when he also came off the bench, drawing compliments from BT Sport commentator Adam Summerton.

A first start followed against Sutton United, but Whitely initially struggled with a role in the first XI.

Corey Whitely celebrates scoring his winner for Dagenham & Redbridge against Aldershot Town (pic: David Simpson/TGS Photo) Corey Whitely celebrates scoring his winner for Dagenham & Redbridge against Aldershot Town (pic: David Simpson/TGS Photo)

Slowly, but surely, though, he grew into it and week-by-week became a talisman for the club.

The sign of a good player is the importance of the goals he scores; Whitely’s first for Daggers was the first in a 3-1 win at Bromley, but goals two and three were the sole strikes in wins over Eastleigh and Aldershot Town, while his sixth snatched a point against Solihull Moors.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been low points, like the dismissal against Guiseley or the trip to Torquay United, when the BBC Radio Devon commentators were adamant he came on as a second-half substitute despite starting.

On the whole, though, there have been few players in my two years covering Daggers that gets fans off their seats as much as Whitely.

The player of the season award for him will be richly deserved – and hopefully acts an incentive to keep him past the summer, when there is sure to be plenty of interest!

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