Home-grown defender on comeback trail
Will Nightingale is aiming to pass his driving test with flying colours later this summer – and then show he has learned enough on the football field to become a first-team regular.
The 19-year-old defender, who made four first-team appearances last season before suffering a knee injury that required an operation in February, is now raring to go for pre-season after his recuperation was carefully managed by the club’s medical team.
Speaking during an interview for Dons Player, Nightingale also thanked Wimbledon supporters for getting right behind him after he made his debut.
“I finished last season fit and strong,” said Nightingale. “I did not get a chance to play in the final games either for the first-team or the Under-21s and initially I was annoyed by that. I was champing at the bit because I just want to play football, but now looking back I understand 100 per cent that it was the right decision. I finished the season fit after managing to get a few training sessions in. Everything has healed up now and it feels good.
“My full debut against Accrington Stanley was a massively proud moment for me and I was happy to get the man of the match award, but I know I can improve upon that. To come through the ranks here is a big honour for me, but also for my family too as we are local. To hear the comments from fans was great. I was so appreciative of the congratulations that I received, but I know I can get better.
“I have to be confident and ready for the new season because I want to be in the first-team more. Next season is going to be an important one for me. I have to get it out of my head that I am an Under-21s player and have the mind-set that I will be a first-team squad player at the minimum. I am confident in my ability, but I am always pushing to be better.”
That includes off the field too as Nightingale aims to clear one important hurdle before the season gets underway by passing his driving test.
“I started taking quite a few lessons towards the end of last season and I have carried that on,” Nightingale added. “Hopefully, I am close to passing now and my test is coming up soon. It would be nice to get it out of the way as soon as possible so that I can focus purely on football during pre-season.”
The full eight-minute interview with Will Nightingale is now available to view on Dons Player.