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O'Brien to travel?

Decisions to be made ahead of Dagenham trip

23 January 2020

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After returning from injury on Tuesday night, Jim O’Brien could make the trip to Dagenham this weekend according to Neal Ardley.

The midfielder has had a torrid time since September, with a broken arm and freak leg injury restricting him to less than 30 minutes of first-team football in the past four months.

He’s not fit to start at the Chigwell Construction Stadium, but O’Brien may be included in the travelling squad.

“All options are open,” Ardley told the media on Thursday afternoon. “It’s a decision around whether he is fit enough for the bench.

“He’s trained today and he got 45 minutes in the tank on Tuesday night so I’ll have a think.

“If I take him I have to be open to an ear bashing because he’ll be telling me he’s fit to start, but we know he’s not ready to.

“You have to be at the top of your game or you’ll get found out and it’s our job to make sure he’s at the level he needs to be or he’ll let the team down.”

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Another question ahead of the weekend is what involvement Cal Roberts will have following his signing on Monday, and Ardley gave some insight into what he’ll bring to the team.

“The most important thing is he scores and creates chances,” said the boss. “We think he could be a real asset for the club going forwards.

“He has pace, a low centre of gravity, tight control, quick feet, a lovely left foot and an edge to him as a Geordie lad, so he’s not soft.

“He can strike a good ball, play off either side or as a number 10 and he’s got the bit between his teeth.

“We were talking about him last year and the thing we’ve got to develop is getting him up to speed with playing in a 4-4-2 and knowing what we expect from him with and without the ball.

“I think the lads can all see that he’s got some lovely qualities so we’ll try and bed him in and hopefully it’ll click and he’ll be flying.”

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Ardley also discussed Nathan Tyson’s exit after the striker joined Chesterfield on loan for the remainder of the season.

“We had an honest chat and he said he’s struggling to even get on the bench because of the competition here,” revealed the boss.

“He’s had a lot of niggles and it’s been hard for him because while he’s been trying to get fit our other three strikers have been establishing themselves.

“I’ve no complaints whatsoever. He needs to play and wants to salvage something from the season so he’s taken this opportunity when it cropped up.”

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Saturday’s clash will be our second meeting with Dagenham in a fortnight but the boss thinks it’ll be a different test to our Buildbase FA Trophy win.

“It’ll be a tougher game than two weeks ago,” he added.

“Dagenham’s home form is a lot better than their away and the manager has had two weeks to work with his players now.

“I expect them to be more ground into his ideas this time around so it’ll be a harder game.”

Ardley confirmed Ben Turner has returned to training but Dion Kelly-Evans will miss out, while Damien McCrory's inclusion will be dependent on whether he trains on Friday. 


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