Ryan and Dan viewed as players for the future
We are delighted to confirm that home-grown talents Ryan Sweeney and Dan Gallagher have today signed professional contracts at AFC Wimbledon.
Ryan, who has made the first-team bench at Oxford and at home to Accrington Stanley this season, has been with the Dons since he was just eight years of age. Now aged 17, the towering defender’s excellent performances for the development team, have been rewarded.
Dan is a 17-year-old central midfielder who has bounced back from a knee injury this season with a string of impressive displays for Alan Reeves’ development side. His professional contract rewards a rise through the ranks after joining the club when he was just 10.
.Rising TalentsA video interview with both Ryan and Dan can now be viewed on our official You Tube channel by clicking on
Neal Ardley believes both players have great potential to become first-teamers in the future.
“This is brilliant because it is what the club is all about,” Neal said. “It’s been a positive season with academy products coming through and it creates a really good buzz about the place. These two players have earned their professional contracts. We are keen to give these out if we feel the time is right.
“Ryan is a tall centre-back and I think that Alan Reeves is the perfect foil for him in the Under-21s. Ryan is becoming that League 2 centre back that we want. He also has a bit of quality that Mark Robinson (Under-18s manager) and Jeremy Sauer (Academy Manager) have nurtured over the years.
“Dan was playing for the Under-18s earlier this season and Mark was singing his praises week in and week out. Mark was pushing him nice and early by getting him to play as part of a two-man midfield and he has responded. He does a lot of the work well that you need to do in League 2. He is a good size and has a good engine. We are delighted to have both Ryan and Dan here and hopefully they will be stars of the future like the boys playing at the moment.”
The picture above shows (left-right) Jeremy Sauer, Mark Robinson, Dan Gallagher, Ryan Sweeney and Neal Ardley.
Ryan Sweeney says that watching Will Nightingale and Ben Harrison step-up to the first-team has encouraged other academy prospects to believe that they can make the grade.
“The manager has shown this season that he will give young players their first-team debuts,” said Ryan. “If we are ready then the manager will put us in. Will made his debut against Accrington and he was phenomenal. I’m still learning the game but hopefully next season I can get a chance. I’ve been working towards this all of my life and I want to say a massive thanks to Mark Robinson and Tony Wilson (former academy coach) for playing a part in bringing me through.
“Signing a professional contract means everything to me. Week in and week out we are reminded about the glory days at Wimbledon and the FA Cup win against Liverpool. The club is pushing forward again and hopefully it can rise through the leagues.”
Dan Gallagher said: “I’ve been at the club for almost eight years now and this is what I’ve been working towards. I missed out on my final chance to play in the FA Youth Cup against Burnley due to injury and that was tough because I just wanted to be there for the lads. I’ve managed to bounce back though and played the last four or five games for the Under-21s.
“Tony Wilson and Mark Robinson have really pushed me on. I wish to thank them, along with friends and family, for their support. To sign a professional contract is brilliant, but I really want to build on this. I want to work my way towards the first-team.”
Academy Manager Jeremy Sauer believes that all the hard work of staff at the club over many years is now starting to pay off.
“It’s reward for all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes,” Jeremy said. “This group has been together for a long time and Mark Robinson has put a lot of work into it. For the academy, this is validation that we are doing a good job. The amount of players now signing pro contracts is a signal that the club want to produce its own players and the manager will put them in if they’re ready.
“We work just as hard with the Under-9s and Under-10s as we do with the Under-18s. Ryan and Dan have come right through the academy and this shows that the academy is moving in the right direction.”