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Dartford's Sam Odaudu will play in the Football League, predicts manager Alan Dowson

Dartford manager Alan Dowson has tipped Sam Odaudu to play in the Football League - after just one league game.

Odaudu made an impressive National League South debut during last Saturday’s opening-day win at Bath, playing the second half at left-back after starting the match in midfield.

Sam Oduadu, left, has made a big impression on Darts boss Alan Dowson. Picture: Keith Gillard
Sam Oduadu, left, has made a big impression on Darts boss Alan Dowson. Picture: Keith Gillard

The Dartford academy product impressed during pre-season and Dowson has already seen enough of the teenager to predict a bright future.

“I’ve got players to the Football League before, the likes of Jamal Lowe and Christian Jolley, and Sam’s as good as anyone,” enthused Dowson.

“He was up against their best player on Saturday and he didn’t get past him once.

“We’ve got him under contract and with an option as well so someone will have to buy big, I know what the club is like, they’ve got ambition.

“He’ll be a Football League player, I’ve got no doubt about it. I haven’t seen any better left-backs or midfielders than him for his age - how he was against Charlton’s first team, against Millwall, he was exceptional. Fair play to the Academy for bringing him through.”

Odaudu’s versatility has already been evident and Dowson believes his long-term future will be at left-back.

The Dartford boss is not one to talk players up but the youngster has made a big impression.

“I think he’s a left-back,” added Dowson. “I played there all my career and he’s got everything. He’s strong, he attacks balls in the air.

“He might play a few games in midfield but eventually he’ll be a left-back, and he’ll be a left-back in the Football League in my opinion.

"I’m not going overboard as I never do with players but, honestly, I feel he’s that good that there will be clubs sniffing around him.

“If someone has a spare couple of hundred grand, they should go for him as he’ll play a lot higher!”

Dartford won at Bath thanks to two second-half goals by forward Pierre Fonkeu.

It was a resilient first-half display from the Darts, with the ever-dependable pair of Tom Bonner and Connor Essam to the fore.

“It was hard in the first half, defending the slope and we knew it would be,” reflected Dowson.

“But I said to Tom Bonner if he won the toss to go uphill first half.

“We had to dig in but it shows they can do that and then in the second half I thought we were the better side and controlled the game. He works hard and doesn’t say much.

“We went down on Friday and trained at Swindon’s training ground during the day. It was different for the lads, we stayed together and had a pre-match.

“I thought we’d win the game, I was the only one who was happy about the Canvey Island match but I couldn’t show it.

“I knew that Bath were watching so I played a different formation and we got all our mistakes out of the way.

“I said at half-time on Saturday that we needed to pass the ball better but I knew the slope and the heat on the first day of the season would be tough.

“We’ve kept our expectations down here, even though I know how good I think we are. It was a good away performance, our two centre-halves were very good and Dan Wilks was back to his best.”

And an added bonus for Dowson was the second-half introduction of Alex Wall from the bench.

He added: “Alex is fit now but he can’t get in the team at the minute as he’s missed a lot of pre-season, but he will do.

“Everyone thinks he’s going to be a write-off with his injuries and everyone thinks he’s going to get injured every single week but he’s played a part of the first game of the season.

“He’s getting written off by a lot of people but I haven’t written him off and I think he’ll get goals and be a big presence for us.

“He’ll be trying to get into the side as quick as possible now.”

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