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Neal seeks to nurture Ben

17 October 2014

Manager on developing young players

Neal Ardley has stressed the importance of carefully managing 17-year-old Ben Harrison’s progress after he decided to rest him in recent weeks.

Having made the breakthrough this season, academy product Harrison (pictured) quickly made five first-team appearances and signed a professional contract at Wimbledon.

However, the full-back has not featured since Newport away with Jack Smith having made an impressive return.

Speaking to Dons Player, Neal Ardley said: “I think people don’t understand that when a young player plays in his own age group he is probably at the equivalent of running at level 10 on a treadmill for 30 minutes. Then when he moves up to first-team level it’s more like he’s performing at level 20 for 30 minutes in terms of the mental and physical demands. Young players can only do this for so long before they need a break or their bodies get tired.

“People underestimate the mental side of things in football, but Ben has handled it all unbelievably well. It’s been a good time to dip him out though so that he can refresh his memory and get him back to developing his game. Having Jack Smith back has allowed us to do that. I’ve had good chats with Ben about this and he knows it's all for his own development.

“I’ve seen players go up to the first-team, before being left out and then not being allowed to play for the Under-21s. They’ve ended up without a team and losing form and development. As I’ve seen this happen then it gives me experience of how to deal with Ben.”

    The full interview with Neal Ardley is now on Dons Player, along with an interview with Sammy Moore. 

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