The boss on Accrington and more
Neal Ardley updated us on preparations for tonight’s Accrington Stanley match during an interview for Dons Player.
The Wimbledon manager spoke about closing in on survival targets, the mood among the players and praised new goalkeeper John Sullivan after his commanding performances between the sticks.
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yesterday:on Dons PlayerHere’s the full Q & A with Neal Ardley, which appeared
It’s another long trip for Wimbledon with a match at Accrington, but these away matches seem to have brought the best out of the lads?
They are tough on the body and tough on the mind, but we have a resilient group of players. We looked well ahead to these three tough away games. We have done well in two of them and we want to continue that and then try and get the players fresh again. These long trips do help team spirit. We are now coming to the end of a two-month period that we planned for a long time ago. I looked up at my wall the other day and saw how close we are to the end of that spell. It has taken a lot of planning and hard work and if you look at the points we have picked up then it is very pleasing.
In terms of team news, will Kelly Youga come into the reckoning with Jonathan Meades unavailable?
It was the idea to leave Kelly out on Saturday with tomorrow in mind. He did well at Southend last week, but he is a lad who has not had a lot of game time. To have thrown him into a run of Saturday, Tuesday games would have been tough on the boy so we decided to use Saturday to keep him fresh knowing that we would lose Jonathan for Accrington. We had a chat with Kelly when we signed him and he told us that he had been called up for his national team. Kelly said that he would not meet up with them until the Wednesday. That was the agreement right from the start. Hopefully, Jonathan does not play too much for Wales Under-21s and we have him back in contention for Saturday.
The word you used to describe Alan Bennett’s performance at Aldershot was “immense”, but the man behind him John Sullivan has also settled in with ease. What have you made of his contribution?
It is not easy coming into a new club, but John is a very confident and vocal lad. I think he has been celebrating with the fans at the end of games and that is good to see from a new loan player. We knew about that side of his personality, which is why we wanted to bring him in. I think the job that Neil Sullivan did was fantastic because he came in at a really tough time when we had not reached the January transfer window and a time when we could change things around. There is a good spirit and a bit of a buzz about the place at the moment and the new ‘Sully’ has been a big part of that.
Are there likely to be any more players coming in or out of the club on loan in the near future?
We have reached our loan limit and we have to make a decision this week on whether we extend a couple or not. We are just trying to get one or two more out on the training pitch. Will Antwi is starting to do a lot of running now, Curtis Osano is getting closer and hopefully Pim will only be another week or so. Hopefully, we will have the luxury of leaving one or two good players out soon.
We now have 45 points with just eight games to go in the club’s battle to survive. It is now the home straight in a sense.
The boys have done really well under extreme pressure during the last few weeks. York, Plymouth and Aldershot were all six-pointers and the players were under pressure. But I think the character of the players and staff has shown has been fantastic. There are no easy games in this league and away at Accrington is certainly not one of those as their form has picked up. Everyone is fighting now and it is unbelievable at the bottom of this league now. I do not think there has been a year like it, but we have to keep looking at ourselves. Two or three weeks ago we said that we do not want to get to the stage when we have five games to go and we are really struggling, but since then we have done really well.