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Neal swoops for defender

23 June 2014

Fifth summer signing is Mark Phillips

Neal Ardley has today continued his summer rebuilding job by snapping up experienced former Southend United centre-back Mark Phillips.

Having been a part of a League 2 title-winning side with Brentford in 2009 and been a regular at Southend, where he was Player of the Year in 2012, Mark has good pedigree at this level.

And he’s also a player familiar to manager Neal Ardley, who was a team-mate of Mark’s when the defender was in the first-team squad at Millwall.

Speaking to Dons Player, Neal Ardley said: “Once we knew that Darren Jones was probably not going to stay due to family reasons we looked long and hard at our list. We went through the pros and cons of each player and we kept coming back to Mark. He’s very aggressive in both boxes, he knows the league and I know the character we are getting. We are really pleased and hopefully he can add to the quality, experienced centre halves that we’ve already got.

“He ended last season on loan at Aldershot, but that was due to contractual reasons and not footballing reasons. We spoke to people at Aldershot and they said that Mark was the main reason they stayed up. Mark reminds me of Andy Frampton in his aggression. He absolutely puts his body on the line and he’s probably picked up one or two injuries based on how gung-ho he is. I’m confident he will be good in both boxes from set-pieces and will score goals. Mark has matured his game over the years. He’s a good size at 6 feet 2 inches and brings a lot of aggression, which you need at this level.”

During an interview for Dons Player,  32-year-old Mark revealed that he had watched Wimbledon as a child and he had no hesitation in signing for the club when they came in for him.

“There were two or three other clubs interested in me, but Wimbledon was my first choice,” said Mark. “Being fairly local, my first ever game as a kid was watching Wimbledon, though I can’t remember which team it was against! I’ve also played with plenty of players who have played for Wimbledon and I’ve witnessed the rise of AFC Wimbledon from when they started again with nothing.

“It’s been exciting times with the club growing rapidly and I’m very happy to now be a part of it. It’s a great club and I jumped at the chance of signing. Personally, I want to keep the defence as solid as possible by helping to keep clean sheets. The aim has to be promotion ,I don’t think you can aim for anything less than getting into the play-offs.”

    Dons Player subscribers can now watch an in-depth video interview with Neal Ardley and an extensive interview with Mark will follow later.

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