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Neal has one eye on future

19 March 2015

Manager believes good talent is coming through

Neal Ardley today spoke enthusiastically about providing more opportunities for promising youngsters and he praised the “wonderful” work of the club’s academy.

Neal says he would rather give young players a chance in the remainder of this season, rather than dip back into the loan market.

Speaking during an interview for Dons Player, Neal said: “When we lost Dave Winfield, the first question Erik asked me was ‘do we need anyone?’ Jake Goodman is back to fitness, we have Mark Phillips and we need to look at players like Ryan Sweeney. Is now the time to bring someone else in or to give our own players a chance? We have been short up front with David Connolly going, but George Oakley has been injured for six weeks with a hamstring injury.

“I would have used our Under-21s a lot more, but some have had niggling injuries. I have worked hard to bring in players, but there is no point bringing in someone who is not as good as what we have already got. We have brought five or six youngsters into the first-team squad already this season. If Ryan Sweeney is in good form and we feel he deserves game-time then we will give it to him.”

The picture above shows (left-right) Academy Manager Jeremy Sauer, Under-18s manager Mark Robinson, Dan Gallagher, Ryan Sweeney and Neal Ardley after the Dons academy products signed professional deals.

Neal added that the development of these youngsters is critical for the club.

“At this point we are looking out for the club and the future,” Neal said. “Our academy has done a wonderful job. We have a golden group that won leagues and competitions at 13 or 14 and they are second year apprentices who are starting to come through now. We have started to dip Dan Gallagher and Dan Agyei into the Under-21s and first-team football. That is great and it needs to continue. Let us blood the youngsters, get them in and around the squad. We will finish the season as high as we can and every game we will go for the win.”

The full video interview with Rob Cornell interviewing Neal Ardley is now on Dons Player and an interview with Jake Goodman will feature tomorrow.

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