Dartford manager Alan Dowson has warned his squad he won’t tolerate poor levels of discipline this season.
Summer signing Paul Rooney will miss the first three games through suspension after a post-match incident while playing for former club Havant at Worthing in March.
Rooney saw red just days before Dartford learned the news of that suspension in a pre-season friendly with Charlton.
“He won’t be getting paid, that’s for certain,” said Dowson on Rooney missing the start of the campaign.
“He’s a good lad and a good player but he’s at a place in his career now where he can go one way or the other.
“He’ll either be playing Sunday League football in a year or doing really well at the top of this league in a year. That’s exactly where he is at the moment.
“I’ve spoken to him about it. He got himself sent off in the first pre-season game.
“It’s up to him as I don’t back down off anybody. He’ll either not be with us or he’ll be one of our best players, it’s as simple as that.
“I managed to get him a job with my mate, doing scaffolding, so I’ve got to give a bit back to him and he’s got to give a bit back to me. He needs to prove that we can get on because the whole world thinks we won’t get on.”
Rooney was part of an ill-disciplined Havant squad last season that picked up eight red cards in National League South.
Fellow new recruits Joash Nembhard and Tyrell Miller-Rodney also had spells at Westleigh Park but Dowson won’t tolerate any lack of discipline in his team.
“I’ve spoken to them but I won’t speak too much - they just won’t be here,” he warned.
“I want a hard, physical side that competes but they won’t get away with what has happened before, I don’t like that sort of thing.
“They’ll have to clean up on that or they won’t be here, as simple as that.”
Meanwhile, Dowson wants his team to use pre-season to eradicate their mistakes after a new-look back four conceded two sloppy goals during their tour to Newcastle last weekend.
The Darts led Dunston UTS 2-0 but were pegged back in the last 20 minutes.
“I thought we were sloppy defensively in the second half so we’ve got to work on that,” said Dowson. “But let’s get all of that out of the way in pre-season, we’ve got a few weeks to go yet.
“We haven’t done much on the training ground in that sense. But if we’re going to do anything this year then we need to stop the type of goals that we’re conceding.
“We were doing all right at 2-0 up. I think you look more at the first 60 minutes than the last 30 when all the changes are made, that’s when it’s a proper game. To be fair it took a long time to get there and we had a quick turnaround from the hotel to the game, and it was chucking it down with rain.
“We conceded two sloppy goals, we did it last season and it’s something we’ve got to stop. I didn’t feel very secure with the back four on the night.”
New signing Lewis Manor again caught the eye while Dowson was pleased that the intended squad bonding came to fruition.
“I thought it was a great exercise,” added the Darts boss. “Lewis Manor was the pick of the bunch, he was our best player on the night and he hasn’t missed a header since he’s been at the club.
“We’re still getting to know each other, they had to share rooms and things like that so they’re a closer squad now. We went to Gateshead against Newcastle the following day and it chucked it down with rain again so the one thing they did learn about was the Geordie weather!
“They got to know each other, they went out to Newcastle and I took my staff to the working men’s club. The chairman and committee were there and it was nice to get to know everyone away from the football pitch.”
Darts host League 2 Gillingham at Princes Park this Saturday before a trip to Bromley on Tuesday night.
“On Saturday I’ll probably go as strong as I can with what we’ve got available and start to get a few 90 minutes into people,” added Dowson.