Captain says Dons are in good shape for rest of season
Captain Barry Fuller believes that Neal Ardley has assembled a squad with enough depth and talent to cope with a hectic fixture list.
Hartlepool away tomorrow starts a run of three games in eight days, but AFC Wimbledon have shown the benefits of a January squad overhaul so far with just one defeat in seven games.
, Fuller says that changes have rejuvenated the squad – and there can be no excuses about tiredness.Dons PlayerSpeaking during an interview for
“The manager has brought in a lot of players in the last few months and the squad has changed a lot since the start of this season,” said Fuller. “Young, energetic players have come in to strengthen us. Jack Smith and Tom Beere also came back in after injury and performed well. The squad we have got is big and strong now and the manager has rotated it recently, which has freshened it up even more.
“Deji Oshilaja has been brilliant since he came in. A lot of people would have looked at his size for a League 2 defender, but he has a great leap and is good in the air. He is athletic, strong and fast. Not many players get past him and I think he has been a massive asset. I think we are going to be very strong towards the end of the season. The players who have come in have a lot of pace and energy. A few of the boys that came in also knew a lot of the other players from previous clubs or from playing against them. That has helped them to settle in quickly.
“Players have been rested when required. The manager is big on recovery periods and players being as fresh as they can be. Jason Moriarty (Sports Scientist) also keeps the boys on their toes and makes sure they hit a certain benchmark before they are ready to be selected. I don’t think the manager or the players here have ever used tiredness as an excuse. A hectic season and playing Saturday, Tuesday, in successive weeks is part and parcel of the modern game now.”
At the age of 30, the experienced full-back has prepared for life after his playing days by setting up The Fuller Weston Football Academy with ex-Gillingham team-mate Curtis Weston. However, Fuller believes there is plenty left in the tank yet – and he is thriving on being Dons captain.
“I’m pushing on now and I have to look towards when I retire,” added Fuller. “I enjoy working with young kids and hopefully giving them the opportunity to get spotted in the same way that I did. Hopefully, they can fulfil their dreams. That’s why I set-up the academy with Curtis. But my football is the main aim and I feel I’ve still got plenty of years left in me yet as a player. There’s a lot of time still yet for me to do that.
“When I first came to the club and I was appointed as vice-captain that was an honour. Since taking over from Alan Bennett halfway through the season, I am loving being captain and the responsibility it provides. I’ve always been a speaker and opinionated so when it happened I don’t think it was much change for the boys!”
Fuller says that Wimbledon will not be taking Hartlepool lightly, especially after losing at home to tomorrow’s opponents in August.
“We have to go into this game with the same attitude as if we were playing one of the top teams,” Fuller said. “Their players are fighting for their careers and their livelihoods. It’s probably going to be cold and wet up there and if we’re not on our game then it will be difficult. We will have to go there and roll our sleeves up.”
The full interview with Barry Fuller featured on Dons Player yesterday, along with Neal Ardley’s update. WDON will be broadcasting live from Hartlepool United via Dons Player.