January has proved to be a rather nervous month for Daggers fans over the last few years. Even chasing the Conference title in 2006/07 couldn’t prevent the transfer of starlet Craig Mackail-Smith to Peterborough along with pacey but accident-prone defender Shane Blackett. Going on to clinch promotion shows just how astute John Still has been at seeking replacements as the move could easily have spelt the end of our challenge.
Just last season we came close to losing Ben Strevens during the window before he made the decision to stay until his contract expired at the end of the season. Speculation also mounted surrounding Sam Saunders after he admitted that he was unlikely to sign a new contract. Of course, this is all without mentioning the seemingly endless winter speculation regarding the futures of Paul Benson and Scott Griffiths. Thankfully we seem to be running out of young stars for richer clubs to rob from us but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to talk about this year!
The club have already announced the signing of striker-cum-defender Phil Walsh from Dorchester. You would imagine that getting into any side managed by ferocious former Dagger Ashley Vickers indicates his attitude is spot on, but question marks hang over his goal tally. This season it wouldn’t be fair to judge given his primary use as a defender, but past seasons haven’t seen particularly good returns. At least his lovely hair-do should mean he has an instant conversation topic with Danny Green to make him feel at home.
The only other inbound transfers so far are loan deals. Portsmouth have given us a lend of lanky midfielder Marlon Pack for a month as we try to restore some ball-winning abilities to the middle of the field in Thurgood’s prolonged absence. I’m sure everybody has their fingers crossed that he’ll have an instant impack-t… sorry.
Jamie Day will remain at the club til the end of the month, presumably whilst the management attempt to seal a deal for a more permanent replacement. It is unlikely that Day will manage to force his way back into the reckoning at Posh though, and perhaps a longer deal may be in the offing if there aren’t any other suitable options. Meanwhile going the other way, Scott Griffiths is all but certain to sign on the dotted line after settling in pretty well in the Championship.
Upon Darren Currie’s arrival in a loan deal from Chesterfield, the club announced that the move would become permanent in January. The only word on the matter since however has been to confirm his loan expiry after the Torquay match this Saturday. Given Currie’s past relationship with John Still it would be very surprising if anybody withdrew from the deal, but failing to confirm the signing is interesting with Chesterfield fans also now speculating that Currie is about to rejoin their ranks.
Another player likely to extend his time with us is Danny Spiller. Both the player and the manager have mentioned in recent weeks the possibility of a contract extension, so the deal appears to be a formality. His current deal expires this month and with injury blighting his stay so far, there will surely not be a massive amount of competition for his signature.
Going the other way is Joao Carlos, who was signed on a short-term deal from Aveley a few months ago. After making the bench and playing an Essex Senior Cup match, he hasn’t been seen for a while and has popped up at Dartford in recent weeks. Also you would very much expect Gavin Dayes to be finding new employment after not playing a single game since his short-term move last month.
Dead in the water
Undoubtedly a left back will be high on the agenda for this transfer window given our distinct lack of them. However it seems that Gareth Gwillim will not be the man coming in after Histon rejected our bid. We know from past experience that our first offer is our final offer so it looks likely that we’ll miss out on probably the best left-back currently playing in the Blue Square Premier. Which is a bit of a shame.
Recent newspaper talk seems to imply that Danny Green has attracted interest coming into the window, so if the Daggers manage to obtain a hefty fee for his services, could it open the door for Sam Saunders to return? Andy Scott has already threatened a clear-out after a disappointing start to life in League One for the Bees, and with Sammy failing to make the starting line-up for quite some time, he may be one that needs to watch out. A recent upturn in the team’s form may have changed Scott’s mind however.
Another headache of recent weeks has been the left side of midfield with Peter Gain being moved inside and Jon Nurse not looking totally comfortable in the position. With Montgomery apparently not being deemed ready for the rigours of League Two football, and Tommy Tejan-Sie not getting a chance since a promising couple of outings earlier in the season, could a move for Thurrock winger Fola Orilonishe be on the cards? He already has 7 goals in the league this season and at 23, it could be time for him to make a step up. If not, there’s always that old chestnut Glenn Poole who is with the Grays circus!
One player who could add competition in the back four is Bromley captain Rob Gillman, a former Bishop’s Stortford player of the year. With Anwar Uddin having several injury problems over the last couple of years, and Will Antwi’s well documented injury proneness, an extra defender may be needed to shore things up. Rumour has it Luton are also interested. Another Thurrock player that may be on the radar is midfielder Reiss Gilbey. At just 18 years old, he has broken into the first team at Ship Lane and has impressed in the last couple of weeks.
Daring to dream
Star of last season, Matty Ritchie, has returned to Portsmouth after his loan with Notts County expired. Although Portsmouth look set to offload players if anybody actually wants them, surely the blonde trickster isn’t ready for the top flight just yet. So how about letting him come back to set Victoria Road alight again?