Preview ahead of game at Imber Court
Alan Reeves has challenged AFC Wimbledon’s young talents to prove they are worthy of future first-team opportunities by producing consistent performances for the development squad.
The U-21s face a tough test at Ryman Premier side Metropolitan Police tonight (7.45 pm kick-off at Imber Court), though they will have Ben Harrison, George Pilbeam and George Oakley available to boost the squad.
Following his appointment as Senior Professional Development Phase coach last summer, Alan Reeves initially had Will Nightingale, Ryan Sweeney, Tom Beere, David Fitzpatrick and Harrison in his squad, but all of those have since gone on to be a part of the first-team set-up.
Alan therefore believes it is an example of what can be achieved for his current crop.
“They need to look at what happened last year,” said Alan. “If they are good enough they will get chances. The manager has shown that and he comes from an academy background himself. He will have no qualms about putting lads into the first-team if they are good enough. The manager trusts my opinion and what they have to do is prove to me week in and week out that they are good enough for the first-team. The manager needs to know that if he puts them in they can be trusted to do a job.”
.Young DonsPart of an interview that we did for Dons Player with Alfie and Neset can be viewed on our official You Tube channel by clicking on are two from Mark Robinson’s Under-18s squad aiming to make the step-up to the Under-21s this season and both will start tonight at Imber Court. Neset Bellikli (left and right above)Midfielders Alfie Egan and
Neset, who previously played for Epsom Eagles and Corinthian Casuals, is a second year scholar aiming to impress Alan Reeves in the left wing position.
Speaking during an interview with Rob Cornell, Neset said: “For the Under-18s I started off as a left-back because Mark wanted me to work on my defensive responsibilities. I started a few games for the Under-21s at the end of last season and I think I did quite well. Hopefully I can keep my place. Ben Harrison helped me a lot because as a left-back I was not sure what I was meant to do.
“As a winger you can get too attached to going forward all the time. They want me to express myself, but to also have a defensive responsibility. Alan Reeves was a good defender so he helps me a lot with the defensive side of things.”
Alfie, who joined the Dons as a 15-year-old after spells with Dulwich Hamlet and Tottenham Hotspur, is aiming to show what he can do as a dynamic midfielder.
“I am normally a hold-up midfielder who just gets the ball and passes it, but they want me to be a box-to-box midfielder,” Alfie said. “I have to work on getting back and trying to get forward into the box to score goals.
“I started off at Dulwich Hamlet, but then I got picked up by Spurs. It did not work out for me there and I joined AFC Wimbledon when I was 15. As soon as I came here I loved the club and it has worked out well for me since.”
Full interviews with Alan Reeves, Alfie Egan and Neset Bellikli are all on Dons Player.
Entry prices for tonight’s game at Imber Court are £5 for adults and £2 for concessions.