Academy graduate selected for international honour
Ryan Sweeney’s rise through the AFC Wimbledon ranks has earned an international call-up for Ireland Under-18s and manager Neal Ardley says he fully deserves such recognition.
Ryan (pictured), who joined our academy at the age of just eight, will link-up with Paul Doolin’s squad for a training camp on 30 May, ahead of two away fixtures against Luxembourg from 2-4 June.
The 6ft 3 inch defender only turned 18 recently and Ryan qualifies to play for Republic of Ireland as he has Irish grandparents.
Neal Ardley says that Sweeney’s development is a tribute to his dedication and the coaching skills of Alan Reeves, who has helped the player progress from an Under-21 regular to the first-team.
“In the last three or four months Ryan has progressed a huge amount,” said Neal. “Alan Reeves identified one or two things that Ryan needed to work on to get opportunities at first-team level. He needed to work on his aggression and make sure he won more headers. With coaching it is a two-way thing and the player has to work hard on his own game. Ryan has shown that and he has been absolutely flying in the last few months.
“He was a player who had the profile required, but maybe lacked some of the qualities needed for first-team level. Both Ryan and Alan deserve credit. The difference in him during the past few months is what has earned him first-team opportunities. At centre-back we need to be able to trust that a player can cope at League 2 level. Ryan did really well after making the step-up, but he still has a bit to work on.”
It has been a rapid season of progress for Ryan as he started the season with Mark Robinson’s Under-18s. However, he was quickly elevated to the Under-21s and ended the season with three first-team appearances under his belt, including man of the match performances against Oxford United and Cheltenham Town.
With a crop of home-grown talents having made their first-team debuts during 2014/15, Academy Manager Jeremy Sauer is proud of the work carried out by his staff and he is delighted for Ryan.
kicked on again thanks to Alan Reeves. “During the past season Ryan has really come on a bundle,” said Jeremy. “He has put himself on the radar for the first-team and has now been recognised by Ireland. Mark Robinson and Tony Wilson (former academy coach) deserve a lot of credit as they have worked with Ryan over a number of years. They taught Ryan really good habits to give him that grounding. In the last 12 months he has
“For the academy, it has been a surreal season with so many players getting opportunities at first-team level and hopefully we can build on that. Ryan is a 6ft 3 inch left sided centre-back, which is pretty rare, and I am sure he can get better in that position in the future.”
Keep an eye on the official website later on for an interview with Ryan Sweeney.