Adam Barrett back in the reckoning
Wimbledon will be aiming to deny a rejuvenated Luton side on their own patch tomorrow and Neil Cox believes that his squad has enough experience to cope.
On-loan defender Adam Barrett (pictured) makes a welcome return as one of several in Wimbledon’s squad with a wealth of Football League experience. Dannie Bulman, Bayo Akinfenwa, Matt Tubbs, Mark Phillips and Sean Rigg all joined in the summer with plenty of league appearances under their belts.
Speaking to Dons Player, Neil Cox said: “All the new boys have joined in really well. Though we did not do very well the other night, they know it’s a 46-game season and we have to work really hard together. They know when to have a bit of fun, but when the serious time comes they are up for it. All the senior lads are helping the younger players and that’s what we need.
If we can set our stall out and defend well then we have two strikers who can score against anybody this season. “It’s Luton’s first game back in the Football League and they’re one of the favourites to go up. It will be a tough game. We know the way John Still likes his teams to play and that won’t change.
“It’s not been the easiest of starts for us with plenty of games and we have two tough away fixtures coming up. But the players have to look after themselves; they have to eat right, rest up when they’re away from the training ground and work hard when they’re in.
“We have to be looking forward to playing in front of a big crowd at Luton Town. I played there a few times during my time at Middlesbrough and Aston Villa. The fans are close to the pitch and they will be up for it with it being their first home game back in the league, but it’s a good test for us.”
Manager John Still is threatening to repeat the success he enjoyed with Dagenham & Redbridge as he led the Daggers into League 1 after taking over in the Conference. The Hatters made light of a 550-mile round trip to win at Carlisle in their opening League 2 fixture and they gave League 1 Swindon a run for their money at Kenilworth Road on Tuesday night in the Capital One Cup.
Former Don Fraser Franks, who was part of AFC Wimbledon’s promotion-winning squad in 2011, played in the 2-1 defeat against Swindon and he could line-up against his old club. Luton made a raft of summer signings, including bringing Andy Drury back to the club, and they are viewed by many as promotion contenders.
Of course, the last meeting between the two clubs was on that magical day in Manchester when the Dons booked a return to the Football League by winning the Conference Play-off Final on penalties, just nine years after AFC Wimbledon was formed. However, Luton had the better of it during the league meetings in the 2010/11 season with a 3-0 win at Kenilworth Road followed up by a 0-0 draw at the Cherry Red Records Stadium.
Mark Phillips, who made a first start for Wimbledon since joining in the summer, has enjoyed his time at the club so far, but he says he’s still battling to gain peak fitness.
“Since the first day of training, it’s been a very welcoming club,” said Phillips. “We’ve got a great set of lads, good management staff, and I’ve loved my time here. It was just unfortunate that I required an abscess to be cut out and that caused me to miss a vital part of pre-season and Tuesday was my first 90 minutes. But I’ve been in the game long enough to know what I need to work upon. I’m looking at the positives and coming back stronger.”