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Dagenham & Redbridge blog: Daggers are back with a new-look squad

PUBLISHED: 08:54 03 October 2020 | UPDATED: 08:54 03 October 2020

Paul McCallum of Dagenham during Hornchurch vs Dagenham & Redbridge, Friendly Match Football at Hornchurch Stadium on 5th September 2020

Paul McCallum of Dagenham during Hornchurch vs Dagenham & Redbridge, Friendly Match Football at Hornchurch Stadium on 5th September 2020

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Our Dagenham & Redbridge blogger Keane Handley is back for the new National League season and previews the opening week.

Dean Rance of Dagenham during Hornchurch vs Dagenham & Redbridge, Friendly Match Football at Hornchurch Stadium on 5th September 2020Dean Rance of Dagenham during Hornchurch vs Dagenham & Redbridge, Friendly Match Football at Hornchurch Stadium on 5th September 2020

203 days ago, I wrote my last fan blog following a last-minute defeat to Fylde, that would be the last competitive match Dagenham & Redbridge would play for 7 months.

But now, I am relieved to say that I and the Daggers are back, with McMahon welcoming 9 new faces to Victoria Road in that time - there is a lot to catch up on. Just quickly on the transfer business, and what a summer it has been for transfers.

The headline signing being Paul McCallum, a huge coup, but the other 8 including the likes of George Saunders, Callum Reynolds and Dean Rance have all pleased the Daggers fan base. They have provided great depth, experience, flare and leadership in equal measure.

However, there were some major outgoings in Manny Onariase and Liam Gordon; which left major gaps in the Dagenham defences. Reynolds and Johnson came in as replacements so let’s see if they can feel the boots of the fans’ favourites that have gone before.

Darren McQueen of Dagenham during Hornchurch vs Dagenham & Redbridge, Friendly Match Football at Hornchurch Stadium on 5th September 2020Darren McQueen of Dagenham during Hornchurch vs Dagenham & Redbridge, Friendly Match Football at Hornchurch Stadium on 5th September 2020

Well, they’ll have to make their first impressions on fans via our screens against Halifax this afternoon; with the season starting behind closed doors the clubs will be streaming the season opener.

Before we delve into the match analysis, I thought I’d give you my Daggers XI to face Halifax: 3-5-2 (3-4-1-2).

Justham, Reynolds, Clark, Croll, Johnson, Eleftheriou, Robinson, Brundle, Balanta, McQueen, McCallum.

Now, there are a few notable omissions from that line-up, with the likes of Saunders and Deering missing out out of those match fit along with loanee Kai Brown. It proves just how much of a selection headache McMahon has - there are worse problems to have!

The player I’m most looking forward to seeing in a Dagenham shirt is, besides McCallum, George Saunders whom isn’t in my initial eleven as he perhaps suits an alternative formation, 4-3-3 or even 4-2-3-1, but the hype around him does make me somewhat intrigued.

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I’m also interested in seeing how that back line gets on, Reynolds and Johnson in particular and see just really how they compare to Manny Onariase and Liam Gordon.

Onto the ‘Match Analysis’ and the opponents Halifax have also done some good business this window but they have been hit with what can only be described as an injury crisis with the Halifax Courier reporting the Shaymen have just 16 players that are fit.

With the opponents in a less than ideal situation, I fully expect the Daggers to pick up all 3 points in their first game of the season and McCallum to get off the mark quickly.

But, that’s what is expected and with Dagenham, things rarely go to plan in the early stages of the season with the team so often ‘unable to gel’ and this can’t be the case if we are to challenge at the top this season.

However, there are nine new players within the squad so it’s a possibility that things don’t go to plan in the opening fixture tomorrow and then perhaps Barnet on Tuesday.

So, yes, McMahon’s men have a game Tuesday of next week also, with this season more jam-packed with fixtures than ever before due to the delayed start which only just went ahead thanks to Government funding this week.

Before we get onto the game against a new-look Bees, I’d like to focus on this busy schedule and the importance of depth as we learned this afternoon Rance is out for a month and Harry Phipps - the season.

All of a sudden, our strongest position is one of the weakest, and I am hoping that this doesn’t affect the Daggers too much this campaign as it has in others because I think a huge slice of luck will need to be dealt to teams that end up at the top of the tree this season - where we aim to be.

Now, onto Peter Beadle’s Barnet and a huge shake-up there with very few players, and staff for that matter, from last season remain and at one point in the summer they were down to four players!

They have recruited now though to gather a squad of players whose ability is fairly unknown, again with that many players coming in I’d be surprised if they hit the ground running and I again predict a Daggers win with the quality and calibre of players we’ve brought in - I believe we’ll be too strong for them - therefore six points from six.

Those hopeful wins and goals will be celebrated at homes across Essex this season, for now at least, as the new streaming service is rolled out on Saturday - it’ll certainly be different but it’s full credit to the clubs, 16 I believe of the 24, so far who have their systems up and running. The title challenge starts now apart; hopefully we’re together at the end.

Check back here next Friday as I react to the week’s action on and off the pitch and assess just how successful the streaming service was - until then COYD!


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