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Daggers defender happy to stay if move away fails

13:57 06 June 2014

Luke Wilkinson celebrates scoring against Morecambe on January 26. 2013 at Victoria Road. The defender has now handed in a transfer request. Pic: Dave Simpson/TGSPHOTO

Luke Wilkinson celebrates scoring against Morecambe on January 26. 2013 at Victoria Road. The defender has now handed in a transfer request. Pic: Dave Simpson/TGSPHOTO

Dave Simpson/TGSPHOTO c/o 27 Plaiters Way, Braintree, Essex, CM7 3LR - Editorial Use ONLY - FA Premier League and Football Leagu

Daggenham & Redbridge defender Luke Wilkinson is happy to stay and fight for his place, but only if he cannot secure a move away.

The 23-year-old felt ‘squeezed out’ at stages last season after falling behind Scott Doe, Brian Saah and Ian Gayle in the centre half pecking order.

That prompted the former Player of the Year to hand in a transfer request at the club, which was accepted.

His availability has now been circulated, but if a move doesn’t materialise for the former Portsmouth youngster, then he is more than happy to give Doe, Saah and Gayle, assuming the latter signs a new contract, a run for their money.

“I didn’t play as much as I wanted to last season,” said Wilkinson. “Brian Saah and Scott Doe were playing well and then Ian Gayle came in as well and I was dropped.

“I felt squeezed out a little bit, but that’s not a problem and I’ll fight for my place if nothing comes along. I just feel I need a fresh start elsewhere.”

A groin injury picked up before pre-season hardly helped his cause.

That made him miss the whole pre-season campaign and from then on, he admits he was always playing catch up.

“Having been player of the year the season before I was looking forward to the new campaign,” he added.

“Injuries didn’t help me and I missed the whole pre-season. That was difficult.”

Wilkinson sat down with manager Wayne Burnett to discuss his future and the Victoria Road boss had no problem whatsoever with the defender’s desire for a move away.

“He was fine with it,” he remarked. “He didn’t have a problem with me requesting the move. If nothing comes up I’ve said to him I’ll fight for my place, but I want a new challenge and a fresh start elsewhere.”

It is early days, but Wilkinson was unaware of any early interest, and wouldn’t be adverse to a loan spell if it helped him earn a contract elsewhere – with the defender entering the final year of his contract.

“I haven’t heard of anything yet, but everyone is away on holiday at the moment,” he added.

“I’ll just have to wait and see. If nothing does come up and I am not in the frame I guess a loan would be okay. It would give me a chance to earn a contract elsewhere.”

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