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Neal lays down gauntlet

22 August 2014

Dons manager's message ahead of Hartlepool

Neal Ardley has challenged his new-look squad to prove that they can cope with the pressure at home to Hartlepool tomorrow.

Though opponents Hartlepool have endured a difficult start to this season in contrast to Wimbledon, Neal Ardley says his squad has to deal with a different kind of pressure in this game. And the Wimbledon manager wasted no time ensuring this message was made loud and clear at today’s training session.

Speaking to Dons Player, Neal Ardley said:“It’s a game that the fans will probably feel confident about and people will think it’s a game that Wimbledon should win. I don’t think that about any game in this league. It is a different type of pressure that we face tomorrow and we could not handle this kind of game last season. It was not that we were taking it easy, but mentally we were just not good enough to deal with the pressure of being expected to win against lower teams.

“We have a new group now and I am giving them the benefit of the doubt that they know how to cope with this type of pressure. I have made this message clear to the players today. It’s going to be their first big test of whether we can live up to our own aspirations of where we want to finish in the league this season.”

Former Dons loanee Charlie Wyke joined Hartlepool earlier this week on loan from Middlesbrough and Neal is fully aware of the threat he could pose tomorrow.

“Colin Cooper has a young side and their confidence may be a little fragile,” Neal said. “But if we don’t get our side of the game right in terms of our energy and team play then they will cause us problems. We know we’ve got goal threat, but we have to make sure that we do all the other stuff that League 2 demands. Charlie is a great lad and he is a handful when he’s at it. He’s good physically and is a strong player. We will have to ensure that we’re on our game tomorrow.”

Dons Player subscribers can now watch the full video interview with Neal Ardley and an interview with captain Alan Bennett will follow later.

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