Neal Ardley updates us on preparations for Saturday
Rashid Yussuff could be back in the frame for Saturday’s trip to Cheltenham after missing the midweek draw against Plymouth due to illness.
Speaking to Dons Player at our New Malden training complex this afternoon, Neal Ardley said he will check on the fitness of players tomorrow before selecting his squad for the match at Whaddon Road. Jonathan Meades is unlikely to feature as he is still struggling to shake off a bruised foot and though Curtis Osano is back in training, Saturday may come too soon for him to join the likes of Yussuff back in the squad.
With Will Antwi (hip) and Jim Fenlon still weeks away from making the frame, Neal Ardley says the coaching team are concentrating on keeping the fit members of his squad fully fit and focused during a tough schedule of fixtures.
“It is tough at the moment,” the Wimbledon manager said. “It is no good preparing them and putting them through all the rigmarole on the training field if their legs are so tired that when it comes to Saturday, they cannot carry out instructions anyway. First and foremost, we have to get the players as fresh as they can be – that is the main priority. But we also have to get the message through to them about how we are going to play. Video analysis is quite good for that, but we also have to let the players enjoy coming into training so that there is a bit of camaraderie. Keeping the players fresh is important with games on a Saturday and a Tuesday on a regular basis, but we also have to get them focusing on a game plan.”
Neal Ardley will be aiming to engineer a more positive result than the last time he came up against Cheltenham Town in October when the Dons lost 2-1 just three days after his appointment as Wimbledon manager. Though the games are coming thick and fast, Neal Ardley says his coaching team have meticulously planned for such a crucial spell in the battle to stay in League 2.
“We planned two months ahead as we knew what we were going to be up against with this run of fixtures,” he added. “But everyone available to us will be coming in with their tracksuits at the ready tomorrow and we will look at the situation with players as regards injuries and illness. Then we will put a squad together.
“Cheltenham have been on a sticky run for them as they have drawn quite a few games in recent weeks. Mark Yates made a few changes in the January transfer window to spice up the squad. But they were a play-off side last season and they are likely to be a play-off side this season. We know how difficult this will be. We have to stay as mentally and physically strong as we can and put in a hard-working team performance. If we carry on the way that we have with a little bit of momentum, then I am sure we can give them a good game.”
The Wimbledon manager confirmed that he is considering making moves to bring players in before the close of the emergency loan window.
“We need to see where we are after Saturday based on the injuries we have,” Neal said. “We have got one or two players that we are potentially looking at and we are assessing whether they could be options. But it has to be right and we will not bring players in for the sake of it. We have a lot of players and a strong squad, but it is really important during this spell that we keep the momentum going.”
.Dons Player subscribers can now watch the full video interview with Neal Ardley on our premium site and tomorrow we will feature an interview with Sammy Moore