Dartford boss Alan Dowson wants new signing Paul Rooney to add some much-needed steel to his side.
The Darts manager felt his team were a soft touch too many times for his liking, despite finishing second in National League South.
He’s hoping no-nonsense midfielder Rooney will help his team avoid being an easy target on their travels.
“Rooney battered us down here when Havant beat us,” said Dowson. “He was a centre-half at Millwall as a youngster but he’s turned into a midfielder and he can go around rattling people.
“I think we lacked that a lot last year to be honest. When I go through the whole team it’s only [Jordan] Wynter that makes a proper tackle.
“We needed to get that player to add a competitive edge in there. I think we’ve lacked steel.
“When we went to places like Chippenham, Concord and Taunton we needed to show backbone. We had a lot of good footballers but we lacked that.
“We lacked a bit of guts and the whole world knew that. It was a case of when you play against Dartford if you can get into them then they’ll fold a little bit.
“I’m trying to get a bit of steel in the team because we need to go to those type of places and pick up points. I didn’t think we had that last year.”
Dowson agreed deals to keep striker Alex Wall and midfielder Luke Allen at the club for a further campaign.
Both players struggled with injuries throughout the 2022/23 campaign and Dowson has told them exactly what he expects.
“They’ve got reputations of being on the treatment table and they need to play matches,” stated Dowson.
“The amount of times they haven’t played is not right so it’s up to them how they do. I’ve had a chat with both of them.
“They’ve both got to get more minutes on the pitch. Alex Wall is doing training sessions and one-on-one stuff with Christian Jolley, it’s a pre-season in itself. I’m really confident this could be Wally’s time. He got stuck in last season but he got stupid injuries.
“If we get more minutes out of Luke Allen and Alex Wall then we’ll be a force next season. Luke Allen is one of the best midfielders out there on his day and Wally is unplayable on his day.”
Dowson was also delighted to agree a new deal with Maxwell Statham, who enjoyed an excellent debut campaign at Princes Park.
Statham excelled at right-back but Dowson is ready to utilise his versatility after already signing Tommy Block.
“It was Maxwell’s first proper season and I think now he’s only going to get stronger and fitter,” said Dowson. “I’m delighted about him.
“There’s competition now with Blocky but Max can play left-back or midfield as well. I feel as though what I’ve got to do with the squad is get a few players that can play in a couple of positions.
“We’ve found out that Wynter isn’t a centre-back or right-back, he’s a midfielder. End of matter. But Blocky can play in a few positions and so can Maxwell.
“I think there’s a few clubs higher up looking at Maxwell. He’s under 24 still and it’s a big season coming up if he wants to get to where he wants to go in the full-time game.”