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Dagenham & Redbridge striker Dwight Gayle believes he can make the step up to league football next season.

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Dagenham & Redbridge striker Dwight Gayle believes he can make the step up to league football next season after a successful loan spell at Bishop’s Stortford.

Daggers boss John Still brought Gayle to the club at the start of last season from Essex Senior League side Stansted, after he blasted 54 goals for the Airportmen.

After impressing during a trial at Victoria Road, the 22-year-old spent the whole of the last campaign at Stortford in the Blue Square North on a season-long loan.

He enjoyed a wonderful spell at the Woodside Park-based club, scoring 42 goals on his way to breaking a club record, and also coming third in the goal charts for the division.

And now, back at Daggers, Gayle believes he has what it takes to force his way into Still’s first-team plans.

“It was a nice feeling to score regularly at that level after the step up from the Essex Senior League,” said Gayle.

“I found out a lot about myself while I was out on loan and the two things I noticed as the big difference was the fitness and organisation of teams at that level compared to Stansted.

“You have to be a lot stronger, but I soon adapted and it was a good achievement to score 42 goals.

“I have had a few talks with the gaffer and now my aim is to push on for my place in the first team. I feel I am good enough and ready to make that step up.”

Many players have gone on to bigger things after being plucked from non-league football, including the likes of Paul Benson, Craig Mackail-Smith and Danny Green, who also spent time at Stortford.

Now Gayle hopes he can add his name to the list of players to have made that successful transition from non-league to professional football.

“If you look at Dagenham, the club has brought a lot through from non-league and the manager has been instrumental in that,” said Gayle. “Hopefully I can start repaying the faith the gaffer has shown in me.”

Rod Stringer, Gayle’s manager while on loan at Stortford, has every faith he can do well at Victoria Road. “His goal tally speaks for itself, a player that can score 42 goals at any level is a talent,” said Stringer.

“He may not be the biggest, but he is not frightened of the challenge, and I feel centre-halves were a little bit complacent against him last season because of his height.

“To me he is in a similar mould to Simeon Jackson who started out at Rushden, went to Gillingham and then on to Norwich to play in the Premier League.

“If given the chance by John this season I feel he can step up to that level. Every level up is that little bit harder, but I believe Dwight can make an impression in League Two.”

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