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Dover Athletic manager Jake Leberl on club captain James Dunne’s departure and why young defender Jacob Mensah will keep the armband

Manager Jake Leberl has explained the reasons for the departure of Dover club captain James Dunne.

Dunne, 34, is now playing for Chatham - a team challenging for promotion to National League South - as opposed to a side battling to stay in that division.

Midfielder James Dunne – has left Dover for promotion-chasing Isthmian Premier team Chatham. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC
Midfielder James Dunne – has left Dover for promotion-chasing Isthmian Premier team Chatham. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC

The midfielder came through 90 minutes on his Chats’ debut in a 2-1 triumph against Whitehawk on Saturday, having been on the substitutes’ bench for his last two fixtures with Dover.

“He just wanted to play every minute of every game,” Leberl said. “That’s not something I could offer - to any player.

“But, at this stage of his career, he wanted to play football and I totally understand that. I think it’s best for everyone that he moved on and got on with his career.

“There’s no hard feelings. I respect his decision.

“He didn’t want to hang around and be a bit-part player.”

Defender Jacob Mensah, 23, retained the captain’s armband as Whites went down 3-0 at play-off chasing Braintree last weekend despite right-back John Oyenuga returning.

The loss saw Dover return to the foot of the table.

Leberl explained: “Jacob’s only a young lad but he’s a good bloke.

“I can see room for improvement in his game.

“Hopefully, the captaincy will give him an extra bit of confidence and he’s able to push on some more.”

Dover never really looked likely to recover at Braintree after they fell behind in the seventh minute when a long-range shot took a deflection beyond goalkeeper Daniel Jinadu.

Leberl, who had hoped to build on the success over Slough the previous weekend, reflected: “We didn’t turn up.

“Obviously, it was disappointing and frustrating after doing so well the weekend before. But they were very good on the day – very strong in every position.

“They got themselves in front early on and never looked back. The first one is a big deflection, but they probably earned that.

“No matter where you are in the league, you have got to stay in the game early on. We’ve conceded early a few times now.

“It looked like it was coming on Saturday and - unfortunately - it did with the deflection.

“In the second half, we contained them but never really had too many opportunities ourselves, other than the odd one or two, but we’ve just got to stay positive.

“Anything can happen. Taunton and Truro are in difficult financial situations. All we can do is get everything out of the rest of the games and see where that takes us.”

Leberl remains desperate to add to Whites’ ranks but is finding that a real challenge.

He admitted: “We are still finding it difficult. At this stage of the season getting anyone in is difficult - let alone someone that will really make a difference.”

Dover visit promotion-chasing Worthing this Saturday.

“They have done brilliantly,” Leberl stated. “They have got a way of playing, which suits their pitch.

“They’re difficult to play against and they have done really well in the last couple of years - but we have to believe.”

That journey is followed by the trip to Truro on Tuesday.

While Saturday’s defeat left Dover 11 points from safety, they have rarely been outplayed this term.

Ahead of those successive away league games, Leberl said: “There’s nothing to fear as such.

“It’s about having a foothold in the game, building on that and then taking our chances.

“We certainly will need to start a lot better than we did on Saturday.”

Whites progressed to the Kent Senior Cup Quarter-Final on Tuesday, winning 4-0 at Beckenham thanks to two-goal Destiny Oladipo, Jaheim Whyte and Kai Neil-Gray.

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