By Rob Cornell
Neal Ardley has outlined his approach to the final two pre-season games, before Wimbledon kick-off the new season at Fleetwood in just over a week’s time.
“They are two really tough games,” said Neal ahead of this weekend’s double-header against teams from the fifth tier. “We played a lot of teams that are higher up the pyramid than us and we’ve been the team that’s responded really well and now we’re going to play against a couple of teams that are going to be right up for this. Both of our sides will have probably nine players from the first-team squad in each, so they should be really competitive teams.
“The players know what games they are going to be playing in, so we’ll be looking at different partnerships in some cases, whether it’s at centre-back, wide players and full backs – players that haven’t played together so much. Also up top or centre midfield, just putting different pairings together, just so they get to know each other’s games and feed off each other. It hasn’t been looked at as the whole spectrum of the team, more partnerships around it.”
As we revealed yesterday, Neal will hand an opportunity to Doncaster left-back Tyler Garratt (pictured) in Saturday’s match at Boreham Wood.
The Dons visit Westleigh Park to take on newly-promoted National League side Havant and Waterlooville tonight (kick-off 7,45 pm). Wimbledon then face a trip to Boreham Wood tomorrow (3 pm), who went close to gaining promotion to the Football League last season.
“We’re trying to keep the evolution going of what we’re trying to do,” said Neal. “Keep the patterns. We’re going to come up against a couple of different systems, that perhaps we haven’t faced in pre season where we might face some problems and we’re probably going to have to play against during the season.
“It’s important to try and find out what works and doesn’t work against us. Most important it’s about people now pushing themselves and getting the full ninety minutes, if they can before the season starts. These are the reasons we have a double-header of games, otherwise some players can miss out.
“I’m really happy with them, the boys that have been here from day one for pre-season and those that have joined during it, I can’t ask anymore from them this pre-season. The training has been excellent. This has shown in the games, they’ve looked really fit and strong, so that side of things has gone really well.
“We’d have wanted to have got one or two of the signings in earlier and we’ve still got one or two to get, but it’s just trying to find the right type for the club and to fit our mould and what we want, so we’ll keep working away the best we can there. The boys that have been here – day in and day out – I couldn’t be any happier with.”