Neal's update ahead of visit to the Kassam Stadium
Wimbledon’s match at Oxford United is likely to come too soon for left-back Callum Kennedy’s return from an ankle injury.
Manager Neal Ardley says that next Saturday’s home match against Rochdale is a more achievable target for Kennedy, who was replaced by Jim Fenlon for the win over Hartlepool United on Tuesday night.
With Kennedy having joined an injury list that includes Andy Frampton, Peter Sweeney and Charlie Strutton, Neal stressed the importance of keeping the players he has available fresh heading into Oxford. And the Wimbledon manager believes the squad will feel the benefit of the changes he made against Hartlepool on Tuesday.
Speaking to Rob Cornell on Dons Player, Neal said: “Callum has inflammation in his ankle and he needs an injection that will probably take two or three days to settle down. Saturday might come too soon for him, but I think he should be back next week to bolster the squad.
“We freshened things up during the week by changing the team around and that has provided us with a much better selection policy going into Saturday’s game. If we had kept the same team then maybe we would be wondering what the players were going to produce after playing three successive games. The fact that we have managed to win the games and freshen the team up gives us a big boost and hopefully the performance levels will follow on Saturday.”
The Dons travel to the Kassam Stadium on Saturday having endured a rotten run of five successive defeats against Oxford United since returning to the Football League in 2011. However, Neal says his side go there with plenty of confidence.
“It’s important that we head into a difficult schedule with two wins and that draw against Scunthorpe,” Neal added. “I was disappointed on Tuesday because I could not quite see the identity of our team in the performance and that bugs me. But I always moan that we need to learn how to win games when we’re not playing well and the boys have done that. We are aware that Oxford have a bit of a record against us, but we have to try and put that out of our minds. There’s no pressure on us and we have to go out there and do everything that this league demands.
“Oxford’s away form is outstanding, but their home form is a little bit patchy. However, it will be a tough game. We just to have to ensure our performance levels are high. We don’t want to go there and disappoint. We need to go there on a high and with a strong mindset that we can pick up the points.”
Dons Player subscribers can now watch the full six-minute update from Neal Ardley and an in-depth interview with Harry Pell.