Daggers youngsters ruled out of final day showdown with Bristol Rovers
Daggers fans miss out on chance to see next bunch of young players due to Football League rules.
Dagenham & Redbridge boss John Still was delighted with the way Daggers performed at Shrewsbury on Saturday under little pressure – and hopes to be just as competitive when Bristol Rovers visit Victoria Road for the final match of the season this weekend.
Despite the temptation to ring the changes, only skipper Mark Arber sat out with calf trouble, as 10 of the starting line-up that drew with Crawley Town last weekend more than matched one of the league’s high-flyers for a second week in succession.
Still had hinted recently at including some of the club’s younger players who have spent time away from east London on loan spells, but has since discovered league rules mean his hands are tied.
Heading the list of those potentially pushing to be included was striker Dwight Gayle.
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Signed from Essex Senior League side Stansted last summer, Gayle has spent the season on loan at Blue Square North side Bishop’s Stortford where he has broken the club’s all-time record for the number of goals scored in a season.
A hat-trick in his final match against Eastwood Town on Saturday took his tally to 42, but much to Still’s annoyance the Victoria Road faithful will not get the chance to see their next potential Daggers hero line-up against Bristol Rovers.
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“We would like to have included a couple of the younger players, but unfortunately we can’t,” he said.
“Because we’ve loaned them for a season it included play-offs, so technically they can’t come back until after the play-offs.
“So people like Louis Dennis and Dwight Gayle won’t be able to be used, so we’ll utilise what we’ve got. There will be one or two changes, but nothing wholesale.”
Full-time celebrations from Saturday’s hosts brought memories of last year’s League One campaign flooding back for Still.
And the 62-year-old boss had a word of warning for Graham Turner’s men who will embark on a season in English football’s third tier for the first time in 15 years.
“It is a massive step up,” said Still. “If you look at the teams that have come down – Exeter, Chesterfield, Rochdale and Wycombe – they were all teams in this league in the last few years.
“We missed out by a point last year and to do that we had to work our absolute socks off.
“We’re a much smaller club than Shrewsbury financially, and we were a weaker team when we went up because we lost players we couldn’t replace.
“I had a saying last year ‘doing okay will get you relegated’. We did okay last year and we got relegated, you can’t do okay, you have to do better than that.
“League One will be strong again next year and if teams don’t invest in better quality then you don’t stay in there.
“Shrewsbury are big enough that they can probably invest in better quality. They’re a great football club with proper people on the management side. I’m delighted for them.”