Chester City FC are bracing themselves for an aerial bombardment in tomorrow’s League Two curtain-raiser at Dagenham – so they are giving their crocked captain every chance to prove his fitness.
City will need every inch of defender Paul Linwood’s 6ft 2in frame to combat the Daggers’ physical approach, but a back injury threatens to rule him out of the game.
Teenager Kevin Roberts – regarded by some as not tall enough to play in the centre of defence – is on standby to fill in for Linwood and partner Paul Butler in City’s back four.
Chester boss Simon Davies said: “Paul was OK at the beginning of the week, but then he had another setback.
“He’s dying to play and I’m dying for him to play as well because the major threat when I went to watch Dagenham the other day was the size of their team.
“They must have six or seven six-footers. That would be a concern. I’d like him out there on the pitch just for his size and heading ability. I need him out there but I don’t want to jeopardise other games ahead.”
Davies opted to miss City’s 4-1 pre-season defeat at AFC Telford United on Saturday in favour of watching Dagenham’s 4-0 demolition of Bromsgrove.
The Chester boss was particularly impressed with the Daggers’ front two, Ben Strevens and Paul Benson, but he is confident City can kick-off the season with a win.
“We’ve been working on how direct they are, playing a few practice games,” said Davies. “They put the ball in the box early and they’ve got two big lads up front in Benson and Strevens, who’s a decent player. They hold the ball up well and are a good base to play off.
“They’ve got three or four half-decent players but I’m quite confident.”
Davies has no other fresh injury worries as Chester prepare to return to the scene of their heaviest defeat last season. A 6-2 thumping at Victoria Road in February dragged City into the relegation battle and proved to be one of the final games of Bobby Williamson’s managerial reign.
While current boss Davies is looking to add to his squad before the transfer window closes at the end of the month, he is not expecting to bring in any new faces before the weekend.
A striker remains a priority and Chester-born Eddie Johnson, who failed to win a contract with Crewe this week, is a possible target following his release from Bradford City.
Davies also needs a back-up keeper for John Danby, but Chris Sanna will not be taken on following an unsuccessful trial.
Next up after the Dagenham game is Tuesday’s eagerly-awaited Carling Cup first-round tie with fallen giants Leeds United at the Deva (7.45pm).
The match is all-ticket and tickets will be on sale from the Deva Stadium today and on Monday (10am-4pm). They are also on sale at the club shop, on Watergate Street.
For a big match preview and report, log onto www.chesterchronicle.co.uk next week.
More Blues news, plus team photo – pages 70-71.