Three young talents commit to the club
AFC Wimbledon today completed three signings for the future with George Oakley, Joe McDonnell and George Pilbeam all putting pen to paper on new contracts.
Nineteen-year-old academy product Oakley, who has featured nine times as a substitute for the first-team, is one of a trio of rising talents to commit their futures to the club on improved contracts.
Goalkeeper McDonnell, age 20, made three League 2 appearances for the Dons after an injury to first-choice James Shea and he is viewed as a stopper of real potential. Right-back Pilbeam has also shown manager Neal Ardley that he could be a first-teamer in the future, despite an injury-hit season after joining from Brentford last summer.
Speaking during an interview for Dons Player, Neal Ardley said: “It is great. We have had a hugely successful season below the first-team in terms of what we are trying to achieve for the future. It has gone well and this sort of puts the icing on the cake as we get towards the end of the season.
“We held meetings a couple of weeks ago to discuss how Under-18s and Under-21s are going to fit in. The Under-21s have done really well this season, but we have told them that next season they have to be looking to step-up. They have to become first-team players who occasionally play Under-21 games and not the other way around. We need to change their mentality a little bit because if we have injuries next season we want to be able to put them into the first-team.
“There is an eye on the future with these boys. You are never the finished article at 22, never mind 19. We have to take all these things into consideration. If in a year or two we decide they are not what we want to take the club forward then it will be because they have not developed, but we have to give them that time.”
The picture above shows (left-right) Oakley, Pilbeam and McDonnell after they signed on the dotted line today.
Oakley was delighted to sign a new contract at the club where he has progressed through the ranks and he is determined to repay the faith after a campaign that has been interrupted by injuries.
“It is really pleasing to have signed a new deal because I have been at this club since the age of 13,” said Oakley. “It is a dream come true. I have had a stop-start season due to injuries, but I have been on the bench for the first-team quite a few times. The season has not been as successful as I would have wanted, but hopefully I can push on next season and get into the first-team.”
The full interview with Neal Ardley is now on Dons Player and this also features a preview of tomorrow’s match at Plymouth. Interviews with Oakley, Pilbeam and McDonnell will all feature later on our premium channel.