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Neal will assess options

23 February 2015

Manager to check on winger's fitness

Neal Ardley will check on the fitness of George Francomb before selecting his squad for tomorrow night’s match at Cambridge United.

The winger (pictured) has been struggling to shake off a hamstring strain and that meant he stayed on the bench for the 3-2 win against Luton on Saturday.

With Wimbledon working through a hectic spell of games during February, Neal Ardley is considering giving other squad players opportunities and he would have no qualms about pitching in youngsters Tom Beere or David Fitzpatrick for the coming games.

Speaking during an interview for Dons Player, Neal Ardley said: “George really felt his hamstring the other day before Luton and that’s why we did not use him. We will assess that, but we will take a squad with us that ensures we have plenty of cover. I always plan ahead and I’ve looked at the five games starting with Luton on Saturday. It’s difficult to play all the same players in the top half of the pitch in all five games and expect them to produce a high level of performance.

“If you did it would risk injuries and I don’t want that. Players like Tom Beere and David Fitzpatrick have been in good form for the Under-21s. It is important that we recognise that like we did when Will Nightingale came in. They train regularly with the first-team so they know what their jobs are and I would have every confidence in them if I use them.”

Mark Phillips serves the last match of his three game ban for being red-carded at Burton Albion and Jake Goodman is not yet ready for a first-team return.

Neal explained during his interview for Dons Player that the outfield players who started Saturday’s game had light training sessions in the gym today as part of the 48-hour recovery period. However, the Wimbledon manager will have his squad fully clued up about the threat Cambridge pose – and he will certainly not be underestimating Richard Money’s men after their 6-2 defeat to Pompey.

“We will have to approach these games in the same way as our previous ones,” added Neal. “The boys will be prepared for everything that they are going to face. These games are harder than playing the top teams because our opponents will be scrapping for everything. Cambridge had a defeat on Saturday and they will be looking to respond to that. We will have to make sure our performance levels are high.

“We will have a look to see if we can freshen it up a little bit and keep that competition for places. We want to keep going that really good feeling we have around the place at the moment. But that was a one-off result for Cambridge on Saturday. They are big, strong and they have spanked a few teams this season. Richard Money has done a great job, but it was a big blow for them losing Kwesi Appiah, who we know well. Cambridge had to adapt to that, but they have good players. They did a good job on us at our place so it’s going to be tough.”

 Dons Player subscribers can watch Neal Ardley’s full seven-minute update ahead of Cambridge and an interview with James Shea is also on our premium channel.

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