Oakley and Smith edge closer in practice match
George Oakley and Jack Smith both moved a step closer to being considered for the first-team after they featured in a training ground match this afternoon.
Oakley (pictured) boosted his fitness after two months out with a hamstring injury by playing 45 minutes for the Under-21s in a practice match against the Under-18s.
Smith, who has been sidelined with a knee injury for seven weeks, featured for an hour alongside other first-teamers including Harry Pell and Tom Beere.
Eighteen-year-old striker Oakley, who signed his first professional contract in April, looked particularly sharp and netted a first-half goal.
Neal Ardley said: “George was very strong today and he looked like he had never been away. Alan Reeves (Under-21 coach) was really impressed with him as well. The Under-21s have got the next round of the Premier League Cup competition at Charlton next Tuesday and that will be another step for George.
“If George can continue the way he left off last season and keeps adding to his game then I would not be surprised if he makes the bench for the first-team soon.”
Smith is likely to be closer in terms of achieving that aim and Neal Ardley has been very encouraged by his progress.
“Jack has trained for a couple of weeks now and we will have a look at him on Thursday to see where he is as regards the first-team,” added Neal. “We want Jack back in and around the squad as soon as he can. Both Callum Kennedy and Ben Harrison have done really well since Jack has been out, but we have talked about when it might be the right time to rest Ben. Jack is coming back now and it’s a tough schedule for us in October with six matches next month.”
Dons Player subscribers can watch a video interview with Jack Smith later on today.