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Jake will be nursed back

16 February 2015

Centre-back will not return until he's fully ready

Neal Ardley said that Jake Goodman’s recuperation will be managed carefully before he is thrust back into first-team action.

Though the on-loan Millwall centre-back (pictured) has made good progress after suffering a broken toe and is back in light training, Neal will not be rushing him back.

“He’s not that close yet,” said Neal. “I would still say he is two or three weeks away. Jake has not only got to get over his injury and be pain-free, but he has to get himself fit. That’s not easy and he is a big lad. We will get him right and that’s why Dave Winfield is here to do a job.

“It was a difficult debut for Dave coming back to his old club against a side that were always going to put us under a lot of pressure. It’s also hard when you don’t know your partner at centre-back. We’ve had some troubles in this position, but I was really pleased with Dave on his debut.”

Neal expects his squad to work “incredibly hard” to get back on track after Saturday’s defeat at League 2 leaders Shrewsbury with another tough challenge at home to Luton Town up next.

“We had built up good momentum and there’s a good spirit in the camp,” added Neal. “We’ve had a setback and now we need to pick each other up and go again. As always we will be trying to make sure that we don’t go on a run that sends us the other way.

“The only thing we can do is make sure that we have good footballing habits and stay fit and strong. We have to ensure we work incredibly hard in training, but the players have been doing that for a lot of games lately. I don’t see why they won’t carry on doing that.”

Goalkeeper Joe McDonnell had to answer the call on Saturday in difficult circumstances after an injury to James Shea at Shrewsbury. Though Wimbledon’s number one is likely to be fit to face Luton, McDonnell showed that he can be relied upon to do a job if needed again in the near future.

   “It’s difficult to come on away from home against the league leaders, but I could not fault Joe,” Neal said. “He was good at his talking and came well for crosses. I could not have asked for any more from Joe and I’m really pleased for him because he works really hard with ‘Bayzo’ (Ashley Bayes) on the training pitch.”

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