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Neal keeps the faith

25 April 2013

Dons boss says players must "embrace" the pressure

Wimbledon manager Neal Ardley has no fresh injury worries heading into Saturday’s crucial match against Fleetwood Town.

after today’s training session at New Malden, Neal said: “Barring the long-term injuries, we have a reasonably fresh squad to choose from and that is a good thing to have going into the last game of the season.”Dons PlayerSpeaking to

With so much at stake in Wimbledon’s final match of 2012/13, Neal believes it is vital that his players “embrace” the pressure and rise to the challenge in front of a sell-out crowd.

“Someone said to me that in a way we are walking along a cliff,” Neal said. “We can choose to look down and worry about how far we might fall or we can admire the view. We are trying to get the players to admire the view and embrace the pressure of it all. They must try and enjoy the fact that there will be over 4,500 of our supporters absolutely singing their hearts out and willing them on to do every single thing they can to win the game. That is a good way to go into a match with that support behind them.

“The players would need to have buried their heads under the sand not to know about the magnitude of this game. We have therefore kept training similar to the way it has been when we have been winning games and been in good form. There is a balancing act between keeping the boys bright so that they are enjoying their training, rather than them being tense, and ensuring that there is an element of focus on the job in hand. We have kept the boys bubbling and anybody that is around the place would not feel it is a team going into a war in the last game of the season. That is the way we want it and hopefully that will come out at 3.00 pm on Saturday.”

Neal warned that Wimbledon cannot afford to take Fleetwood lightly after their recent slump because the Cod Army were in play-off contention up until recently.

“I know that they have not been in good form and you are always going to talk up the opposition as a manager,” he added. “But I have watched videos of them and they were very good against Chesterfield on Saturday. They could have been two or three up, but goals change games and they were 2-0 down at half-time.

“Fleetwood have got good players and a decent budget – they paid good money for a striker – and they are a big club. They just missed out on the play-offs and the league does not lie. Nothing to play for gives them a bit more freedom and if we are tense, then it can swing in their favour. There are a number of things that can happen and we can speculate on them all, but we have a job to do and we will try and send the boys out to do their jobs wholeheartedly.”

Dons Player subscribers can now watch the full video interview with Neal Ardley on our premium site. We will feature more of Neal’s thoughts on the official website tomorrow.

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