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The National League in focus: How Dagenham and Redbridge, Braintree Town, Barrow AFC are preparing for Saturday’s games

Three of The NLP’s top reporters provide an insight into their club ahead of Saturday’s National League fixtures.


Ned Keating – Dagenham and Redbridge v AFC Fylde

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s clash, any burning issues with injuries/selections?
Only Nathan Smith remains a big injury doubt. The left-back picked up   a knock on his debut against Harrogate at the end of October and hasn’t featured since. Teenager Liam Gordon has been outstanding this term, but is bizarrely out of favour currently, so Luke Pennell, a centre-back by trade, could deputise for Smith again.

Key players for your club at the moment?
I’m a huge fan of Liam Gordon and feel that, following the departure of Elliott Romain last month, he is the early front runner for the player of the season award. That he’s been dropped and told to work on his confidence, which no doubt would knock said confidence, is a strange move from Peter Taylor and one I can’t get my head around.

Thoughts on the season so far?
Everyone associated with Dagenham knew it was going to be tough and so it’s proved. That said, the manner of some of the performances have been unacceptable with too many players lacking the hunger and fight required. Things aren’t helped by Peter Taylor making questionable selection decisions in almost every game.

David Ward – Braintree Town v Solihull Moors, live on BT Sport at 12.30pm

Braintree Town’s ex-caretaker manager Hakan Heyrettin takes charge of his first match as the Iron’s permanent new boss in the lunch time kick off against Solihull Moors in front of the BT cameras.

Appointed last week after a successful four weeks in temporary control Heyrettin knows his young side face a tough game but adds: “This is a great chance for the players to showcase what they can do in front of the tv cameras and that our recent big improvement is certainly no fluke.”

Heyrettin though faces two big dilemmas with England C goalkeeper Ben Killip set for another month on the sidelines with a bad ankle injury and the loss of impressive loanee midfielder 20 year-old Cameron James who was this week recalled by his parent club Colchester United because of their injury crisis.

“Ben is a big loss but we could have a temporary replacement in on loan from a Football League club while Cameron’s departure is disappointing because he has done so well with us but good luck to him as he now looks set to make it into the U’s first team,” he explained.

“We had last weekend off but have utilised the time to work the squad hard and I’m confident we can continue our upward movement in the league,” he said. “I’ve told the players it’s up to them to show me and they know I have on-going plans to bring in some readymade replacements if they fail to live up to the mark.”


The Mail – Barrow v Eastleigh

Ian Evatt’s injury issues have almost dried up during Barrow’s two-week break from action with six first-team players returning to training since their last match, at Ebbsfleet.

The Bluebirds have further bolstered their options with the signing of former Swansea midfielder Kemy Agustien, who is in line to make his debut.

Despite the team’s poor recent run, teenagers Tyler Smith and Rhys Norrington-Davies have both continued to make a big impression during their loan spells from Sheffield United.

Having top scorer Smith back from his recent hamstring trouble is crucial to Barrow’s chances tomorrow.

There’s no question the season has hit a bump in the last month, but there are enough good players at Holker Street for Barrow to turn their form around and start rising up the table.

What they really have to cut out, however, is their tendency to switch off for periods of games, as it has repeatedly cost them.

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