Neal Ardley signs two young goalkeepers
Neal Ardley has today completed a double swoop to increase his goalkeeping options for next season with James Shea and Joe McDonnell both signing on the dotted line.
James, aged 23 (right in picture above), has been recruited to compete with Ross Worner for the number one jersey and 20-year-old Joe (left) is regarded as a highly promising goalkeeper who can further develop his skills playing for the Under-21s.
As a former Arsenal goalkeeper who won an FA Youth Cup medal in 2009 and went onto make the bench in Champions League matches, James has a rich pedigree and his performances for former Dons manager Dave Anderson at Harrow Borough brought interest from other Football League clubs last season.
Speaking to Rob Cornell on Dons Player, Neal Ardley said: “James has been brought in to compete with Ross Worner for the number one jersey. Dave Anderson has regularly said that James is the best goalkeeper he’s seen so we had him in for training three or four times last season. He played in a behind closed doors match for us and really impressed. James won the Player of the Year award last season at Harrow and four or five clubs tried to get him in on trial.
“Goalkeeper is a position that we want to have a competitive edge in and we did not feel we had enough of that last season. James brings different qualities because he has great feet and he’s very good with his communication. Pre-season will determine who gets the number one jersey for the opening day out of these two goalkeepers.”
Joe McDonnell came through the youth system at Basingstoke Town and with his performances having attracted plenty of interest, Neal felt the time was right to bring in a goalkeeper who also impressed during a loan spell at Ryman League Hendon.
“Joe came in and played Under-21 games for us last season and he knows Ashley Bayes, who was at Basingstoke previously,” added Neal. “Joe was outstanding in a match for the Under-21s against Charlton last season and it was one of the best goalkeeping performances that I had seen. He came in and trained regularly with us last season and looked like a first-team goalkeeper. We are out there recruiting and we felt that if we did not get Joe and start trying to develop him then someone else would. We are delighted that he has come in to be a part of our Under-21 set-up for next season.
“We also have Billy Bishop, who has been fantastic for the Under-18s. We can see that he has grown in stature. Goalkeepers are at a premium and they are hard to find, but we feel that Ashley now has a really good squad. There will be a competitive edge among them and there are positive signs with all of them.”
Dons Player subscribers will be able to watch a video update from Neal Ardley shortly and interviews with both young goalkeepers will follow later on today.