Daventry boss Smart admits he is facing fight to keep his best players

Daventry Town manager Allan Smart
Daventry Town manager Allan Smart

Daventry Town boss Allan Smart admits he faces a big challenge to retain his best players.

Town are currently occupying 17th place in Southern League Division One Central, but have shown some positive signs under Smart.

They were 4-2 winners at Bedworth United in their most recent league clash and are now aiming to finish the season with a flourish.

But former Milton Keynes Dons and Watford striker Smart knows he is powerless to prevent clubs circling his key men.

“A settled side is something that we all want but our squad are non-contract players so they are available if other clubs are interested in them,” he said.

“We have a number of very good footballers at the club, so other clubs will always be interested in taking players away from us.

“The biggest challenge we have for the second half of the season is maintaining our performance and holding on to our best players.”

Since arriving at Communications Park a couple of months ago, Smart has brought in a mix of youth and experience to bolster his squad.

And he said: “It has it been difficult introducing young players into the Southern League but the more experienced players like captain Ash Deeney, Ryan Howell and Ricky Hill have been extremely supportive.

“It has been great experience for the younger players and they have not let anyone down.

“The nucleus of the present group is experienced and local to the area which has helped. The spirit is coming and positive results will only assist the team in gaining confidence.”

Having seen his side’s past two matches postponed, Smart has taken time to reflect on the job he has done since taking over from Darran Foster.

A lot has happened in those eight weeks, including the registration of 32 players, many of whom have moved on after failing to impress the high standards set by Smart and his assistant, Aidy Fuller.

And Smart recognises how far the club has come since his first match in charge, at Chalfont St Peter on November 4.

“We lost that first match 4-1 but we were just happy to get a team on the pitch as many of the club’s players had left for one reason or another,” the manager said.

“We now have a decent group of lads and on our day we can give anyone a game, if everyone is fit and well.

“The lads had been picking up some momentum so we’re looking forward to playing again at Marlow on Saturday.”

And Smart has been quick to praise the patience of supporters during what has been a period of transition at the club.

He said: “It has been tough, but thanks for the support - it has been appreciated.

“I have told the players we can bring everyone at the club together with some spirited performances.

“Supporting players isn’t easy all of the time but I want to enjoy the game like any other supporter. I want to be entertained and enjoy watching the team trying to win.

“All I ask for from my players is commitment, effort, work-rate and bravery.

“You don’t need to be the highest paid player in the league to produce those qualities.”