EDGEWORTH coach Gary Wilson had high expectations of what former Brisbane Roar midfielder David Dodd would bring to the Eagles last year.
Although Dodd showed his class as Edgeworth came from last mid-season to make the preliminary final, Wilson wanted more.
Thankfully for Wilson and Edgeworth, Dodd has risen to the challenge in his second year of Northern NSW State League.
The 28-year-old has starred for the Eagles in their climb to second place heading into the round-nine clash with Lambton Jaffas tomorrow at Jack McLaughlan Oval.
Wilson said the experience of Damian Zane at the back and Dodd in the midfield had been key to getting the best out of his young players.
‘‘David Dodd has been really good in midfield, he’s taken it to another level this season,’’ Wilson said.
‘‘We asked more from him and he’s definitely given us a hell of a lot more.
‘‘He scored a good goal against Olympic and he’s really driving that midfield with the younger boys around him.’’
Zane is holidaying in Hawaii and will miss tomorrow’s game, placing even more responsibility on Dodd.
But Wilson believes the tough and skilful midfielder is more than up to the task.
‘‘It’s always hard coming down from a level and I think sometime you just think it’s going to happen for you,’’ he said.
‘‘But this is one of those leagues you have to work hard in for success.
‘‘He’s become close with the group and he’s just working hard, and he’s obviously got that skill and pedigree to go with it.
‘‘You want players like him to lead by example, and he’s doing that, so I’m really happy with him.’’
Defender Pat Wheeler played under 23s last week in his return from US college and Wilson said he may come into the starting side for Zane tomorrow.
German Marco Di Biccari (hamstring) is also out but injuries have not been a problem for the deep Eagles squad, who are unbeaten across the past four rounds.
‘‘We’re picking up points and we’re nowhere near where we should be, so it’s good,’’ Wilson said.
‘‘We’ve got a fairly young side, so it’s taking us a while to get things right.
‘‘But if we can be in some sort of position in a few weeks, hopefully we’re in with a bit of a chance of making the top three.’’
Wilson, though, is wary of the Jaffas, who are looming as genuine finals chances in their debut season.
‘‘For their first year, they are doing really well and I think they will keep getting points,’’ he said.
‘‘If Jobe [Wheelhouse] steps up, he’ll be dangerous and Maj [John Majurovski] is dangerous, so we’re under no illusion how hard it will be.’’
Jaffas coach David Tanchevski said Edgeworth would be the toughest test for his side so far this year.
‘‘They are travelling well and are probably the form team at the moment,’’ Tanchevski said.
‘‘Magic are on top but they are having 6-5 results, whereas Edgy are having some good, solid results.
‘‘This will show us the reality of where we really are.’’
Former Lake Macquarie defender Adrian Perisic will make his debut for Lambton, who have Paul Devine (holiday) away but welcome Steve Bogdanovski (work) back.