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Retiring Roberts back Arsenal starlet to shine

PUBLISHED: 18:00 27 July 2011 | UPDATED: 10:59 28 July 2011

Tony Roberts announced his retirement from professional football before kick-off in the 1-0 defeat to West Ham on Tuesday night

Tony Roberts announced his retirement from professional football before kick-off in the 1-0 defeat to West Ham on Tuesday night

Legendary Daggers goalkeeper Tony Roberts feels Arsenal loanee James Shea or youngster Chris Lewington will prove more than capable replacements between the Victoria Road goalposts next season.

Dagenham & Redbridge boss John Still moved quickly sign Shea on a season’s loan from Arsenal as a replacement for record appearance maker Roberts, who officially announced his retirement on Tuesday.

The 20-year-old, who played 12 times for the Gunners reserve team last season and was on the bench for their FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Manchester United in March, will now challenge Lewington for the vacant number one shirt.

Daggers manager Still already knows which keeper will start at Macclesfield on the opening day of the new season, although would not reveal his decision and Roberts feels either will soon prove their worth.

“All good things come to an end and I’ve left them here with Chris and James, two good goalkeepers that are more than capable of holding their own in League Two,” said Roberts, who moves to Arsenal as a full-time goalkeeping coach.

“I’ve worked with James for the last four years and he’s got every chance.

“Chris has been here 18 months now, he’s come in and he’s listened when I’ve tried to help him on the training ground.

“He’s done well in the games when I didn’t play. He’s learning and the nature of a goalkeeper’s role is you’re learning in every game. Whether it’s dealing with crosses, positioning, shot-stopping, distribution, decision-making, organisation, communication, it’s a massive learning journey.

“I’m at the end of it now at 42, but these boys are young and they want to learn and don’t forget you’ve got Dave Hogan, Dave has done well backing me up in the many years I’ve been here.

“It’s been a pleasure to work with the three of them and they are good enough, they just need that chance and what better chance than to play in League Two.”

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