The O's Goalkeeper Coach/Head Scout talks about the resurgence of Jamie Jones, the rise of Ryan Allsop and the pain in releasing Lee Butcher
DEARDEN ON BUTCHER
“It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in football because ‘Butch’ is such a fantastic bloke and personality. He’s the hardest worker, he has the best attitude, the nicest kid and sometimes football kicks you in the teeth and Butch has had several kicks in the teeth over the last 18 months.
“He had a difficult period when he first got into the team, he went in and came out a couple of times and I think it was when he saved a penalty at home against Preston and finally gave him the belief that he could be a League 1 goalkeeper and from then on Butch never looked back. We’ve been sat here talking about Jamie but we could easily be talking about Lee. If you speak to Jamie he openly says to me ‘I probably wouldn’t have got back in the side if Butch hadn’t of got injured’ and he’s right because Butch was playing fantastically well, week in, week out, proving that he was a League 1 goalkeeper.
“The most innocuous cross, no one around him and 16 months later he still hasn’t made another appearance. It’s just sickening for everybody because he’s just the most fantastic lad we’ve had.
“We haven’t totally shut the door on Lee. He’s not been offered a contract for next season, but we have invited him back for pre-season and we’ll see. The problem is he’s only really trained for two weeks and as much as he looked alright for those weeks, no one really knows how that knee is going to react when you get down to the nitty-gritty of training every single day at full pace. He doesn’t know that and we don’t know that so that’s why we’ve taken the route we have.
“But, no one will be more pleased than myself, the gaffer and Kevin Nugent if Lee Butcher comes back the goalkeeper he was, and if anyone deserves it, Lee Butcher does.”
DEARDEN ON ALLSOP
"We did our homework on Ryan but his development still surprised me a bit. When he came in pre-season, straightaway we all said ‘this kid looks like he’s got something.’
"I worked with him for a week and I said to the gaffer: ‘he’ll be alright, if he has to come in for one or two or three or four games, he’ll be alright, he won’t let us down.’
"Obviously he went in goal for his debut against Charlton and did really well but at the time it was felt it was the right thing to do was to bring Jamie back in and bring Ryan along slowly. But in the end, Jamie got injured again we threw Ryan in and I daresay had he struggled we might well have gone and got someone else in. But similar to when Jamie went in a couple of years ago against Milton Keynes, Ryan looked made for it straightaway. It was a real pleasant surprise as we thought he had obvious ability but at 19 he might need a bit more time to develop and bed in as a goalkeeper.
"Losing him was a situation that we couldn’t envisage happening in the summer but we did everything we possibly could to keep him. In the end we offered him better terms than he wanted but we couldn’t offer him what Bournemouth could.
"At that time he felt that Bournemouth were perhaps a team better suited for his ambition and perhaps he’s been proved right now with them being promoted and him playing the last 15 games. I wish him well, I will never have a go at a kid for being ambitious and wanting to do the best he possibly can."
DEARDEN ON JONES
“It was nice to Jamie recognised at the Star Man awards, I think it came as a bit of a surprise but it’s a testament to the hard work he’s put in over the last few months of the season and also the last 18 months which have been a really difficult time for him.
“It’s been really difficult for him with the injury he had. Every time he looked ready to kick on, the shoulder went again and I think it’s no secret that it was starting to get really, really, near to the knuckle as if Jamie would be able to carry on. But finally he went to see someone and it helped him and he’s been given a set of exercises to do and through that and the hard work he’s put in on the training ground he’s bounced back strongly.
“There were some dark periods where Jamie probably wondered if he was going to bounce back but he’s a really determined character with a real strong personality and was determined to come back and has done and towards the end of the season he showed some excellent form again.
“I’ve been working with Jamie now for five years, the teaching has been done in many ways and I’m there now as a mentor and a maintenance man. I’m there for him to talk to and sound off if he’s not happy about something, we do a lot of work with the video. After every game we spend a good hour watching the video and going through stuff and that’s where me and Jamie have more of a rapport. On the training ground it’s just a case of maintaining him and getting him ready for the games.
“Jamie’s got a big year ahead of him, he’s got a year left on his contract and he has to continue the form he showed at the end of last season so he can gain another contract with us or if he wishes to better himself then he needs to show that form for someone to take him. I feel he’s got the ability to step up, but it’s no good saying that, he’s got to show that on the pitch.
“I think he’s said it’s the best back four he’s had in front of him since he’s been here and I’d say that’s a fair point. We are lucky too now that although we are only in May, we’ve got a pretty settled back six who have all got a pretty settled relationship from last season and we’re hopeful that we can continue that into next season. The main thing is to have a solid foundation and we have that. I’m sure Jamie will be pleased to have that to look forward to next year.”
To hear the full 28 minute interview click here