Duffers’ Diary: Young Ilkeston FC squad needs freshening up

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Iusually end up with a fair amount of egg on my face when I start making predictions and I’m scraping a bit of yolk from my eyelashes as I write this.

I said last week that I considered six or seven points to be an acceptable haul from the festive period, namely the games against Mickleover, Matlock and Darlington.

Only one point so far means there won’t be any more than four coming Ilkeston’s way from those games, and hosts Darlington will provide tough opposition on Saturday having just disposed of leaders Blyth.

As I’ve said many times before, I’m a little more hesittant to be critical of such young players given they’re more a bit more vulnerable to such things, and in fairness they’re still not losing many games at all.

But the last three games have highlighted that something isn’t quite right and I can’t help but think a bit of freshening up in the squad would help things along.

Injuries have played their part and the return of one or two of those who have been out will be welcome, but some new faces from the outside might also be important.

The problem is, where will they come from? If the youth ethos is to remain then you’d expect a young loanee from a Football League club to perhaps be the answer and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, although players like that have rarely set the NMG alight in the past.

Ilkeston won six games in a row not long ago so it’s not as if there’s a major crisis or that there’s no hope of it being rectified, but young players can find it harder to emerge from winless runs than more experienced players can and maybe some know-how might be what’s required.

Either way, the expectation remains for Ilkeston to have a shot at the play-offs again this season and that could be under threat if results don’t start coming again soon, especially with so many others around them having games in hand.

I’ll finish with a quick word on Rhys Dolan. It’s great to see him move to Barnsley and it’ll be fascinating to see how he develops there. He looks a real talent and I, as well as many others, have high hopes for him.