Neal Ardley returns and more options in middle
Neal Ardley returns to the AFC Wimbledon dugout tomorrow, for the Good Friday match against play-off contenders Northampton, with his midfield options bolstered.
Having missed the trip to Tranmere last weekend to have a hip operation, the Dons boss was in bullish mood and able to get around at training at New Malden without the need for crutches. Also back in the frame will be Dannie Bulman (returning from suspension) and George Francomb (recovering from a side strain}.
Although the Cobblers are just four points adrift of the end of season battle to go up, Neal says it’s make or break weekend for Wimbledon.
Speaking to Dons Player, Neal said: “You’re going to have to get above 68-70 points to get in there and that means we’ve got to win at least five of our seven games, so we might as well have a real good crack at it starting with this one and go for the win - which we always do - and throw even more caution to the wind, but it’s not going to be easy because they are in good form.”
“George trained Tuesday and again today,” added Neal, “Obviously he’s had a couple of weeks out, so we’ll monitor him. Bully (Dannie Bulman) is back in contention which is great, so those two can come back in. We’ve lost Jack Smith from last week which is disappointing and Callum Kennedy before that,” which hints at another opportunity for Academy product Ben Harrison at left-back.
Neal also clarified the situation regarding young striker Daniel Agyei, an unused substitute at Prenton Park: “Dan has unfortunately rejected a contract offer from us and informed us that he doesn’t want to stay at the club and wants to go to another club. It’s obviously disappointing given the pathway we’ve got at the club and the players we are producing. We’ve worked very hard to keep him here, but he’s informed us he doesn’t want to be here and on that note it’s unfair for Dan to be pushing to get in our squad.”
As for Neal’s own health, the manager sees no real problems returning to his post: “I’m not too bad, walking without a crutch today - for the first time - and Stuart Douglas (first-team physio) is having a go at me saying I’ll be achy later, but I’m good and the pain-killers have helped calm it all down. The doctor said he took a fair amount of the bone away, so hopefully I’ll be back in fine fettle and back to my usual pace I had as a player!”
The full interview with Neal Ardley is available to Dons Player subscribers.