By Tony Leighton
Dagenham and Redbridge are looking to their group of developing young players, says manager John Still, to point the club back towards npower League 1 following their relegation two seasons ago and a 19th place finish in npower League 2 last term.
The Daggers have a much more youthful look than last season, when only a late rally prevented a fall back into the non-league ranks five years after they had become a Football League club for the first time by winning the Blue Square Premier.
A run of promotion form - 19 points from their last 10 matches - kept Still's team afloat in League 2 and raised hopes that they could maintain the momentum into the current campaign. But for one of the League's less moneyed clubs, it was not to be.
The first 10 matches have yielded just eight points and Still, in the ninth year of his second spell as the club's manager, told football-league.co.uk: "We had to let six experienced players go after last season because we couldn't afford to keep them.
"Financially we don't compete with anyone in this League, and we know that if better things come along for players they have to go. But we are a club that's always produced players and I actually think that this group is the best we've ever had.
"We're very young, though. The average age of our back four is 21 - and when we had an old 'uns against young 'uns game in training the other day, there was a 22-year-old in the old 'uns team. That tells you about the make-up of the group."
The young Daggers are amongst the early season stragglers, but they had their first League win of the season on Saturday - 3-0 against Wycombe Wanderers - then got a good point from a 1-1 draw at second in the table Port Vale on Tuesday evening.
Still said: "Our form has been decent and now we've had a couple of good results. We deserved our win against Wycombe and then we showed good resilience against Port Vale and might have won that game with a couple of late chances we had.
"We knew it was going to be a difficult start to the season for us after the changes we had to make to the playing squad. But we firmly believed we had a good young group, and after these last two results, we can hopefully kick on and climb the table."
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