An update from Academy Manager Mark Robinson
has this week taken his Under-18s on a pre-season tour for the first time in preparation for their competitive opener against Barnet next month.Mark Robinson
The Under-18s are this week training in Essex ahead of a friendly match at Colchester United on Thursday with Mark aiming to do things a little differently this summer. Neal Ardley also introduced the idea of youth players attending first-team games and doing jobs around the stadium on match days, something that Mark believes will serve them well.
. “We had a bit of a budget for the tour, but the rest of it was paid for by the lads between them and they were happy to do that. We are training at a hotel this week before the Colchester game on Thursday. I know that a lot of the lads have come through together for years, but we have got four second-year boys and a few lads from the college system. It will therefore be great for team bonding so that they can get to know each other and have a bit of fun too. But it is mainly about continuing the hard work we have done so far in terms of fitness.Dons Player“We have never had a tour away since I have been running the Under-18s,” Mark told
“Another thing that Neal has introduced for every first-team game is that five of our boys come to the club on match days and do jobs. This is good because it means that they get to know the first-team so that they do not feel uncomfortable around them. Neal wants all the players to attend the games and that is a step in the right direction for them too.”
all featuring on Saturday against FC United.Charlie Fayers and Youssouf Bamba, Chace Jacquart, Tom BeereOf course, this season’s Under-18s were able to watch the young Wimbledon professionals who stepped up from the youth section last season with
Mark says this can only be a good example to follow for his players (the full squad are pictured above with Dan Pearse, Rob Switon and Ryan Sweeney featured left to right in the teaser picture).
“I went to the Dartford game and I was really pleased with them, but I thought the boys did even better on Saturday,” he added. “Tom played out of position at right-back, but I thought he was excellent. I thought all the boys looked comfortable; their movement and runs were excellent and that caused FC United problems. All four of them have done well so far with the first-team.”
AFC Wimbledon Under-18s have the following pre-season fixtures before their league opener against Barnet on 10 August:
18 July (1.00 pm kick-off) Colchester United away
24 July (11.30 am) Histon home
27 July (3.00 pm) Sheerwater first-team away
31 July (1.00 pm) Borehamwood away
3 August (3.00 pm) East Preston first-team away
Dons Player subscribers can watch a video interview with Mark Robinson on our premium site.