Daggers skipper feels experience could be key to avoiding relegation
Mark Arber insists the older players have a vital role to play
While the Daggers young stars have earned most of the plaudits for their adjustment to third tier football this season, skipper Mark Arber feels the elder statesmen have a key role to play in the run in.
The 33-year-old has missed just two of Daggers league games this season, defeats to Brentford and Southampton at the turn of the year, remaining a consistent performer alongside Scott Doe at the heart of the defence.
Together with 34-year-old Peter Gain and 41-year-old Tony Roberts, Arber feels it’s the trio’s responsibility to guide John Still’s team through their testing final 13 matches.
“I think we blend perfectly,” said the former Tottenham Hotspur trainee.
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“We’re different characters. Robbo’s a shouter, a bit of a loose cannon, Gainy’s the same.
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“I like to think I’m more of a calming influence and I like to use a bit of my off-field coaching or managerial skills. I’m an arm round the shoulder type of guy.
“The three of us have the ingredients to give the young players confidence to express themselves on the ball and do things the right way.
“They’ll become better players and hopefully in 10 years time they’ll be doing the same things I’m doing.”
Still had the luxury of naming an unchanged starting line-up at Swindon from the side that beat Colchester United 1-0 in their previous outing.
Abu Ogogo kept his place ahead of Phil Ifil, who deputised at right-back in the win over Bristol Rovers, while Femi Ilesanmi started at left-back with Damien McCrory sidelined with an ankle injury.
“I think Phil was different class on Saturday (v Bristol Rovers) I thought it was probably his best performance for the club,” said Arber.
“But Abu’s probably been our most consistent player this season. You don’t see many people beat Abu Ogogo. Him coming back into the side was probably a bit of a disappointment for Phil, because he hardly put a foot wrong. At left-back we’ve had Damien come in and out, Femi took his turn and then Damien got injured again.
“The only real consistency we’ve had is myself, Doey and Robbo. They’re young lads learning the game and hopefully I can pass on my knowledge and they’ll become better players.”
Daggers’ draw at Swindon keeps them outside the outside of the relegation zone, above fourth from bottom Walsall on goal difference.
They also have a number of games in hand on those around them, with three of the next four matches to be played at Victoria Road, but Arber insists they will be taking nothing for granted.
“We’re out the bottom four, which is a great achievement, but come the last day in May that’s where we need to be, we don’t want to rest on our laurels,” he said.
“I think most people looked at us and thought we were the biggest certainties to go down ever.
“We’re out the bottom four, which is a massive momentum boost.
“It’s no good doing it now and then falling into that trap, but I’m a positive man and our form’s great.”