An update from Neal Ardley
Jack Smith is not yet ready to make a return for Wimbledon’s home match against Stevenage on Saturday.
Neal Ardley confirmed that the left-back (pictured) is back in light training, but he has not yet shaken off a knee injury and 17-year-old Ben Harrison is therefore likely to remain in the first-team squad.
Speaking to Rob Cornell during an interview for Dons Player, Neal Ardley said: “Jack is doing straight-line running and we will look to step him up next week. Ben has enjoyed his time with us and he’s not just here to make up the numbers. He has been training with the first-team squad and that will only help him. If we feel that Ben needs the safety net of going back into the Under-21s then we will do that, but at the moment he’s in the squad on merit. With Jack out at the moment, Ben is certainly considered as cover for Callum Kennedy, but we would not be afraid of using him.”
With no midweek game for the first time this season, Neal has had a full week to work with his players and he said there’s been a positive reaction in training after the defeat against Hartlepool.
“They’ve trained well this week,” Neal said. “We did some match analysis this morning to look at some of the things that we did wrong and why the team did not function, particularly in that 25 minute spell in the second-half. As well as we played in the first-half, we could have been more ruthless and could have been two or three up at half-time. But there were reasons why that did not happen and we showed the boys that today.
“My overriding feeling about it is that it was one game too far physically for a few of the players. That’s not an excuse, but it’s something that has become apparent to me since. Despite all of that, we should have won the game and we’ll be aiming to put that right on Saturday. The players from last season are aware of our troubles at home and so am I. We desperately want to change that. We look like we can make things happen and we certainly have a goal threat. We need to stick with that and make sure the opposition have to work really hard to get anything out of the game.”
Dons Player subscribers can watch the full video interview with Neal Ardley on our premium channel and an interview with George Francomb will follow later.