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New Dartford manager Steve King wants to bolster his options in midfield

ByMatthew Panting

Dartford boss Steve King is still keen to strengthen his squad despite picking up two wins in a week.

The Darts followed up Saturday’s win at Eastbourne by picking up three points at Hampton on Tuesday night.

Dartford manager Steve King wants to bolster his midfield Picture: Andy Jones
Dartford manager Steve King wants to bolster his midfield Picture: Andy Jones

It’s moved Dartford up to 13th in National League South but King has now made a central midfielder his top priority.

“I know what’s needed,” said King. “I know where we need to desperately strengthen.

“The three of them in there have done brilliantly but we’re asking them to keep doing it and when their legs are hanging off, we haven’t got a central midfield player to put in there.

“We tinkered with dropping Andy Pugh in there to make a third one. They need help in there.

“I said before I came that I’m a 4-4-2 man, and I still am – I love wingers.

“But we can’t play two in the middle with Billy Crook and Luke Allen, I learnt that very quickly.

“They are good players individually but there’s not a holding one there, they like to go forward and get on the ball. I want to have that flexibility in the group that we can change it if we need to.”

Influential midfielder Lee Noble no longer needs an operation on his knee injury but King is not expecting him back for at least a month.

“He is getting round the clock treatment but I think realistically you’re looking at definitely four to six weeks. If it is any sooner, brilliant,” explained King.

“We’re going into the market for a central midfielder, we can’t wait six weeks, but Lee is going to be a part of what we’re doing anyway.

“I know it’s not right and that’s what’s causing us to come under pressure in the second half of games at the moment.”

King also revealed that it was Mark Onyemah’s decision to leave the club as he has struggled for fitness following a knee operation in the summer.

The Darts boss has since drafted in Dagenham full-back Liam Gordon on loan.

“When Mark left we had a great chat on the Monday,” said King. “I offered him to stay, to get himself fit and then show me what he is about.

“At the moment his body isn’t allowing him to do what his brain is telling him to do. He told me on Monday that he’d fight for his place but on Thursday he had a change of heart and said he wanted to go away and get some football.

“We had a big cuddle, that’s a fact, and he went on his way.

“I’ll always be honest with people. I’m like that and I’ve got a couple more conversations coming up. It’s just where I see we need to strengthen.

“There’s no point keeping players if they’re not going to play. I need a squad that I can call upon, rotate, change things and that’s important.

“We need to strengthen areas, we haven’t got money so we need to get out to get in. That’s how it is, and how it should be.

“We’re a bit heavy in certain areas and light in others. We’ve got three very good centre-halves for this division, two from three are going to play.

“I’ve spoken to them and we’ve paired them together so we can see where we’re going. All three of them are as good as each other and it’s nice to have a third one if we want to go five at the back.”

Darts are without a game this weekend.

Read more: All the latest sports news in Kent

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