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Dartford manager Steve King on continued run of injuries which have disrupted their season

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Dartford’s run of injuries show no sign of letting up as the season reaches its climax.

The Darts have maintained a top-three place in National League South despite constantly having to change their side due to illness and injury.

Dartford manager Steve King. Picture: Barry Goodwin (54285229)
Dartford manager Steve King. Picture: Barry Goodwin (54285229)

It’s left manager Steve King with a regular headache to plug the gaps - and there were more changes required before last weekend’s home draw with Hemel Hempstead.

Danny Leonard picked up a muscle injury during the warm-up and both keeper Reice Charles-Cook and on-loan forward Jordan Greenidge were ill.

That meant regular no.1 Dan Wilks had to be rushed back from a groin injury.

“It’s three more players that I didn’t expect to be missing,” said Dartford boss King, who has had to use his extensive contacts book since the turn of the year to ensure his side maintain their play-off push.

“The whole back four has been missing, apart from Tom Bonner for the odd game.

“We’ve had Jernade Meade out since the start of the year, Jordan Wynter for the past month, Josh Hill since November and Connor Essam now too.

“So we haven’t had our back four together for a long time, Kory Roberts has come in and been excellent for us. He has won four man-of-the-match awards in the last four games and they’ve been different sponsors each time.

“Jernade played 60 minutes in the Kent Senior Cup tie at Margate last week but we’ve got to manage him correctly and he’s not back just yet.”

Dartford’s resolve against that injury backdrop is underlined by the fact they’ve lost just twice in 16 games and although the six draws in that run is understandable in the circumstances, it has meant they’ve fallen off the pace in the title race.

George Porter (hamstring) and Luke Allen (knee) both came off the bench against Hemel Hemptsead. It’s a big boost that they are returning, but with big matches coming up King is keen that they handle their workload correctly.

“They weren’t ready to start,” said King. “We can’t just throw three or four players straight back in the team after so long out as they’re not going to be up to speed straight away.”

Striker Dan Roberts will link up with the squad after his loan at Isthmian Premier Carshalton ends later this month while Wynter could feature in the matchday squad during the Easter weekend.

Dartford visit relegation-threatened Billericay on Good Friday before hosting leaders Maidstone at Princes Park on Easter Monday (3pm).

Billericay are level on points with bottom side Welling and are outside the one relegation place only on goal difference.

“They’ve lost only six times in 19 games since we beat them in December,” warned King.

“It’s going to be tough, they’ve got a good side and their form has been good.”

All eyes will then be on the visit of a Maidstone side who have won 12 of their last 14 league games on Monday.

A bumper crowd is expected at Princes Park with the visitors snapping up their 600-ticket allocation within hours of them going on sale.

“At the moment Maidstone have done ever so well to be there and they deserve to be there,” said King, whose side beat the Stones 3-0 in the FA Cup but lost 4-0 at the Gallagher in the league.

“Those matches earlier in the season count for nothing. It’s a one-off game and we’ll approach it like we do any other game, we want to win it.

“It’s our 10th Kent derby, which is crazy really, if you include the two games we played in the FA Cup this season as well.”

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