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Howell hopes to keep Daggers’ play-off hopes alive in landmark appearance

Andrew Whing of Oxford United and Luke Howell of Dagenham & Redbridge do battle during Saturday's 1-0 win for the Daggers. Pic: Dav Simpson/TGSPHOTO Andrew Whing of Oxford United and Luke Howell of Dagenham & Redbridge do battle during Saturday's 1-0 win for the Daggers. Pic: Dav Simpson/TGSPHOTO

Friday, April 4, 2014
2:11 PM

If midfielder Luke Howell features for the Daggers tomorrow at Wycombe Wanderers, he’ll reach the 100 appearance mark for the club.

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Luke Howell of Dagenham & Redbridge celebrates scoring the Daggers equalising goal at Scunthorpe earlier in the season. Pic: Dave Simpson/TGSPHOTOLuke Howell of Dagenham & Redbridge celebrates scoring the Daggers equalising goal at Scunthorpe earlier in the season. Pic: Dave Simpson/TGSPHOTO

The 27-year-old joined from Lincoln City back in 2011 and after making a positive impact initially, had a six-month spell on the sidelines due to a knee injury.

But since then, the former MK Dons man has featured heavily for the Daggers, and with six games left this season, and a play-off place still achievable, Howell is hoping for a successful end to his third campaign with the Victoria Road outfit.

“It’s a nice spot to be in at this stage of the season and the win over Oxford last weekend was positive because it took three points off them as well,” said Howell.

“You look now and its probably two places up for grabs in the play-offs.

“The confidence has been there over the last month and there’s been a lot of good play from us and that’s meant we are eight unbeaten.

“It’s been good and now we have got six games left, and are only five points off the play-offs. We are confident if we can keep on picking up the points that we can make the play-offs.”

Howell was an ever-present for the Daggers last season as they held on to their place in the Football League on the final day of the campaign against York City.

And to feature week in, week out in itself is the highlight for the former Gillingham youngster, having endured a ‘nightmare’ first season at the club.

“I knew I was getting near the landmark but I didn’t realise it would be Saturday if I play,” he added.

“I played a lot of games last year and it’s nice for me to be near the landmark. It’s been a good couple of seasons for me now with so many games last season and a lot this year as well despite the recent injury.

“That first year was a bit of a nightmare for me, I started the campaign but then to be out for six months was tough but it’s been good to be relatively injury free since then.”

With six games remaining, the Daggers face the four bottom sides in the league, and in normal circumstances you’d fancy Wayne Burnett’s side to maintain their eight-game unbeaten streak.

But at this stage of the season, Howell knows games against the teams further down the table are even tougher than normal.

It’s hard to say whether it is a good or a bad thing because teams are down there for a reason, they haven’t picked up as many points as others over the course of the season,” said Howell.

“From our experience last year we know teams work hard and we have to make sure we work as hard as they will because they are fighting to stay in the league.”

As well as the eight game unbeaten run, the Daggers go into tomorrow’s game against the Chairboys having not lost on the road since January 4 – a 3-1 defeat at York City.

That’s a run of six games, and though pleased with that, Howell believes they’ve not done too badly away from home all season.

“We’ve played really well on most occasions away from home this season,” he added.

“Earlier in the season we were not getting the rub of the green and picking up the points but now it’s working well for us.

“We don’t fear anyone away from home and we are confident we can carry on picking up points on the road.

“We are in a good place with the squad at the moment as well. We can rotate it if we need to and there were a lot of games last month and to stay unbeaten we have had to use the whole squad.”

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