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Neal inspires youngsters

2 July 2013

Under-18s start training after uplifting presentation

about how they can make the grade.Neal ArdleyAFC Wimbledon’s new crop of Under-18s started pre-season training yesterday after words of inspiration from first-team manager

has high hopes for a group of players that have all come through the ranks together and earned notable success along the way, including being crowned national champions as Under-13s in 2010.Mark RobinsonAcademy Manager

As part of their first day of pre-season training, Mark Robinson put together a presentation for the players that included plans for next season and how they can achieve their goals. That certainly carried more impact when Neal Ardley gave a passionate speech about just what it takes to make it as a professional footballer.

, Mark Robinson said: “We started back yesterday and we had a presentation in the morning talking about what we hope to achieve and how we are going to do that. Neal came in and spoke to the lads for 10 minutes before I started, which was fantastic. That led in perfectly to what I wanted to talk about in the presentation. It is great to have someone like Neal who I can talk through stuff with. With Chace Jacquart, Charlie Fayers, Youssouf Bamba and Tom Beere all going up to train with the first-team during this pre-season, Neal gives me feedback on how they are doing. We have a good relationship in that we are talking all the time about football and about the young players specifically.Dons PlayerSpeaking during an in-depth interview for

“With Neal coming through the youth system at Wimbledon he wants to see home-grown talent coming through. That was clear from his talk yesterday and the passion in which he spoke to the boys about bringing players through. That is fantastic for me in my job too and it motivates me even more.”

Mark Robinson also spoke during the interview at New Malden today about the importance of having a development squad next season that will play regular games and focus on nurturing young talent.

“It will be great for the lads to able to see that progression,” Mark added. “Everyone knows that it is difficult to progress into the first-team at the age of 18 or 19. The fact that we are now bridging that gap is going to make a huge difference. I know that you will get the odd one that will be good enough at 18, for example Jim Fenlon came through and did really well last season, but some are not quite ready at that age and need a bit more time. They need to be able to develop into young players who Neal can trust. That is what it is all about because they have to reach a stage in their development when they can be trusted in the first-team when they get a chance.”

Mar Robinson said that interviews are taking place this week for Wimbledon’s new development coach and the club hopes to appoint the right man in the next few weeks.

Dons Player subscribers can now watch a video interview with Mark and Under-18s striker Callum Overton on our premium site.

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