Tom Richards joins on loan from Premier League club
Neal Ardley has today bolstered his squad by bringing in Fulham left-back Tom Richards on a youth loan until the end of this season.
The 19-year-old is highly-rated at Fulham and he has has impressed Wimbledon’s management team during matches for the Premier League club’s Under-21s this season. Tom (pictured above left at the training ground with Neal Ardley) will go straight into the AFC Wimbledon squad for tomorrow’s League 2 match at Fleetwood after the Dons received Premier League approval to make him eligible for the game.
With left-back Callum Kennedy still not ready to return after being sidelined with an ankle injury, Neal Ardley felt it was the right time to bring in Tom to boost his side’s options.
Speaking to Dons Player, Neal said: “With Fulham being local to us we’ve watched Tom play several times for their Under-21s. He’s been playing at left-back this season, but he has unbelievable energy up and down the left side. I went and watched the player last week in a game against Leicester and he stood out in that match. Tom is not tall, but he is quick, has great stamina and a really good left foot. He’s played left-back and left midfield both equally as well. Tom will therefore give us a lot of balance on that side as regards the wing-back role or if we wanted to change the shape slightly.
“Callum will not be training for a little while yet as he’s still trying to get over his ankle injury. The wing-back role is also very demanding and you need three or four weeks of intense training to get in peak shape for it. Jim Fenlon has been playing there and doing a job on the left even though he is naturally right-sided. With seven games coming up in March we felt that this was an area that we needed to strengthen.”
Tom was something of a late developer as a footballer as he was still playing Sunday League football until the start of the 2011/12 season. However, Tom made the most of his opportunity after signing for Fulham. His impressive performances for Fulham Under-18s helped the club to superb national title successes, most recently when the Cottagers won the Premier Academy Elite League Group title in 2013, and he did enough to earn a professional contract.
Dons Player subscribers can view a video interview with Neal Ardley about the signing, along with a full team update from Neal ahead of Wimbledon’s match at Fleetwood Town.