Port Vale: Loft predicts a battle as he prepares for Dagenham return
DOUG Loft is calling on his Port Vale team-mates to roll up their sleeves and prepare for a battle.
The 26-year-old knows exactly what to expect at Dagenham and Redbridge having spent time on loan at the East London club.
And he is warning the Valiants that they must be ready to meet a physical challenge.
"Dagenham will be a tough, strong side to play against and we'll have to be up for it," he said.
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"I know their manager, John Still, from when I was there on loan and I know how hard it's going to be.
"So we've got to go down there with the right attitude, stand up to them and work hard.
"And if we perform like we did against Rotherham, then we should do all right."
Loft, who spent three months at Dagenham in 2009 on loan from Brighton, was not surprised when Still's side made life so difficult for the Valiants when the teams met earlier in the season.
It was at the start of October when goalkeeper Chris Neal's rare slip gave the Daggers, then struggling at the wrong end of the table, the second-half advantage.
It took a Jennison Myrie-Williams leveller just three minutes later to secure a share of the spoils for Micky Adams' men.
Since then, they've hit a rich vein of form, with five wins in seven games before a 3-0 Boxing Day home defeat by Southend.
"They didn't start brilliantly, but I spoke to John Still when we played them here and he said then they would be there or thereabouts this season," added Loft.
"He's a manager who has been there and done it, and I believe him.
"He said this was one of the best teams he'd had in a while, so that tells you how tough it will be down there.
"They're a good unit, so it's going to be a really hard game."
Loft said he enjoyed his time at Victoria Road and balked at suggestions this would be one of the least attractive trips of the season.
"I was only there for a few games, but it was good," added the Vale skipper.
"They didn't play as much passing football as I'm used to, but the manager got everyone working together and we were tough to beat.
"He's a good guy, a football guy. He knows his stuff and he knows how to get out of this league.
"People won't class it as a glamour game, but every game in this league is hard and it will be a big test for us.
"But it's a good fixture for me because it's only 20 minutes from where I live."
A midfielder by trade, Loft has spent most of this season at left-back, but returned to his role in the middle at Rotherham United on Boxing Day where Vale won 2-1.
"I enjoyed it," he said. "There's a lot more running involved when I'm playing in midfield, but I was able to get on the ball more.
"Rotherham played three in the middle, which made it tough for us, but I think we were the better side and created the better chances.
"It was a great three points there.
"We all knew it was a massive game and we prepared right over Christmas.
"We were raring to go and the attitude of the boys was spot on."
Loft reckons the victory, which made it a double over the pre-season promotion favourites after Vale's 6-2 success at home in September, could prove crucial within the context of the season.
"They are obviously a good side and they're going to be right up there at the end, so we've done well to beat them twice," he said.
"If we show the same attitude in the rest of our games, starting tomorrow at Dagenham, then we'll do well."