Double squad boost for Saturday
AFC Wimbledon’s squad will be strengthened for the clash against Oxford United with both James Shea and Jack Smith available for selection once again.
Shea (pictured) has put a broken ankle behind him by returning to full training this week and Jack Smith, who has missed the last two games due to a groin injury, is also poised to return. However, Saturday’s game is likely to come too soon for Callum Kennedy.
Speaking during an interview for Dons Player, Neal Ardley said: “James trained on Tuesday and today so he will potentially come back into the mix. James is a determined boy and ‘Bayzo’ (Ashley Bayes) put him through his paces on Tuesday. He came through with flying colours and if he has no adverse reaction in the next day or so then he will be back in the frame.
“Jack Smith has also trained so he comes back into the mix, but Callum tried to train today and he felt his thigh a little bit. It may be too soon for him. Other than that everyone is fit and we will see how we go on Saturday.”
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Oxford's visit offers Wimbledon an opportunity to extend an impressive unbeaten run at the Cherry Red Records Stadium to eight matches and improved home form is just one of many positives that Neal feels the Dons can build on.
“The mentality of the players at home is that they feel invincible,” said Neal. “The one match we did lose at home this year was against Carlisle and that was one of those games when you went away wondering how we had lost it. We obviously need to try and rectify the away form before the end of the season.
“You can look at progress by the players we have managed to attract this season. We obviously lost Matt Tubbs, but we also brought in Bayo Akinfenwa, Dannie Bulman and Jake Reeves. They are players that two years ago I would have snapped your hand off to even get close to. The last few weeks have put us on a bit of a downer. We felt that we were close enough and it was in our own hands (reaching the play-offs), but we lost leads late on in two games. Monday was a bit surreal with the way we played and the final result.
“We need to pick ourselves up now. If we can make the top-12 and get 60 points-plus then we can look back on it with a bit of pride, particularly if you look at our cup runs and academy players coming through. We need to finish the season strongly and get our summer right to take us onto the next level. There are a lot of big clubs fighting for their lives below us and we have to make sure we do not become one of those in the future.”
The full six-minute update from Neal Ardley is now on Dons Player and an interview with Bayo Akinfenwa will feature on our premium channel tomorrow.