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James the first aiming to rule

Reporter: Matthew Chambers
Date online: 31 December 2013

JAMES Dayton is primed to return as a creative force as Athletic aim to hit the goals trail against Shrewsbury tomorrow.

The tricky winger suffered a minor setback before the Coventry game, but the former Kilmarnock man is ready to resume his role on the flank for manager Lee Johnson — and at just the right time.

While Adam Rooney has done a solid job filling in out wide, Dayton’s worth is shown by the fact he has only been on the losing side in one of his last 10 appearances for the club.

With in-form forward Jonson Clarke-Harris having netted in each of his last three games, summer signing Dayton will be tasked with providing the ammunition for further strikes as Athletic aim to create a significant gap between themselves and New Year’s Day opponents Shrewsbury.

And there is also a small chance that Danny Philliskirk will make it, provided the knee he took a whack on against Colchester stood up to scrutiny in training today.

The other injured men — James Wesolowski and Charlie MacDonald — are said to be progressing well.

“Dayton is the closest, followed by Philliskirk and then Wesolowski and Charlie Mac after that,” said manager Lee Johnson of his injured quartet.

“They are all in close proximity to each other in terms of return dates and all will be hoping to be ready for the Liverpool game.”

Against a Shrewsbury side they have already scored six goals against in two meetings this term, Athletic are looking to improve a Boundary Park record of only three strikes in the last four home fixtures.

Extra subtlety is the key, Johnson argues, when it comes to in-form striker Clarke-Harris making the best possible use of his attributes.

“He is getting better and the game time he has had, in the role he has been playing in, gives him that,” Johnson said of the powerfully-built teenager.

 

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