Lee’s challenge to gifted winger
Reporter: MATTHEW CHAMBERS
Date published: 25 March 2014
SEARCHING FOR CONSISTENCY: Athletic winger James Dayton needs to kick on.
JAMES Dayton has the potential to be one of Sky Bet League One’s best wingers, says Athletic manager Lee Johnson, who could throw him into the fray at Leyton Orient tonight.
The 25 year old hasn’t started a game since the 2-1 loss at MK Dons in February; injury problems have continued to stall his progress.
It comes down to whether Johnson (left) prefers the industry of David Worrall — now operating at an estimated 95 per cent of full fitness — or the scuttling runs down the line which marked ex-Kilmarnock man Dayton’s impressive cameo off the substitutes’ bench against Crawley.
“‘Dayts’ was back to his scampering self and that is when I like him,” Johnson told the Chronicle, ahead of tonight’s test against an Os side sitting third in the division.
“We know he is light, but he can make an impact on a scene with the way he scampers and with his quality.
“I have been a bit frustrated with him this year because I know what he can do.
“Just before he got injured he was flying. Then he didn’t quite come back.
“If Dayts can get to his best consistently, he has the potential to be one of the best wingers in the division.”
The shape of Athletic’s midfield is likely to remain the same, with the main question being the fitness of captain Korey Smith.
He was deployed in a danger-quelling role in front of the back four and Johnson is likely to again field a 4-1-4-1 formation tonight with Jonson Clarke-Harris leading the line.
Joel Byrom is back at Preston with a hamstring tear which will keep him out of action for a month.
Athletic are down to the bare minimum of fit first-team players, with David Mellor (knee) on the injured list along with John Paul Kissock (hip), Genseric Kusunga (thigh) and Anton Rodgers (knee).
Johnson, who feels he could do with a couple more players to cover for the missing men, says the pressure is off his side both tonight and for Brentford’s visit on Saturday.