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Cup Special: Dons ready

6 November 2015

Fuller and Osborne prepare for Forest Green

AFC Wimbledon’s back line are confident, but aware of the threat posed by National League leaders Forest Green Rovers ahead of tomorrow’s FA Cup, first round tie.

Captain and right back Barry Fuller (pic) and on-loan centre-back Karleigh Osborne spoke to Dons Player, ahead of the match at The Cherry Red Records Stadium (Kick-off, 3pm).

“We take no one lightly in the FA Cup as it’s shown over the years no matter what level you’re at there’s always shocks and we don’t want to be on the end of that,” said Fuller.

“Forest Green are doing really well this year, but we’re preparing right and we know we’re going to have to roll our sleeves up and it’s not going to be an easy game. We believe we’re full of confidence and if we play the way we’ve played the last few weeks it shouldn’t be a problem, but it’s the other side of the game we need to make sure we’re ready for,” he added.

Reflecting again on a memorable Cup campaign, which saw the Dons eventually exit in front of a global TV audience against Liverpool in January, Fuller said: “Last season was a great experience and we enjoyed the whole event as players and as a club. Whenever you can get on a FA Cup run it always creates a buzz and it’s no different this year.”

“I think every player loves the FA Cup and Saturday is one we want to win as it’s a home tie and we are raring to go. It’s tough and we know it’s going to be a battle, but we’ve got that feeling and we’re ready.”

Karleigh Osborne has experience of reaching the semi-finals of the competition, as part of a Millwall squad under Kenny Jackett that was put out by eventual winners Wigan Athletic in 2013.

“Training has been really good this week and obviously the FA Cup is a little break from the league, but it’s been really good,” said Osborne, with Wimbledon on a three game winning run in League 2. “The boys have been buzzing and training has been hard and it’s been good.”

“The strikers have been doing well and they work their socks off anyway and Lyle (Taylor) has been scoring some great goals, but they’ve all done their shift for us.” “I think everything is kind of clicking really,” added Osborne.

Osborne echoed the positive feeling throughout the camp following a tough session on Tuesday: “The focus is brilliant. Everyone comes in and wants to work from the off. The great thing is it’s a natural thing and it’s throughout the team and we all want to drive on and the coaching staff push us on.”

“I’m starting to get there,” he added, after a stop-start life at Wimbledon so far. “I’m feeling better about my movement and my reading of the game is getting there so I know I’ve got more to produce and I will get there, but I definitely feel my performances are getting better.”

Both squads have players that have figured previously for the opposition. Winger Sean Rigg is in contention to face the Gloucestershire club. Forest Green have former Dons defenders Dale Bennett and Darren Jones among their ranks, although forward Delano Sam-Yorke (hernia) missed the victory over his former boss Terry Brown (now at Margate) in the previous round.

Barry Fuller is prepared for the battle with the visitors own “Beast” Jon Parkin, should he figure. “He’s good at what he does and he’s done it over the years. In training we’ve worked on a few things and that’s one of them we’ve highlighted and we’ve got to be ready for that.”

“We’re used to teams doing that against us when we’ve got Bayo (Akinfenwa) so we know it’s going to be a tough job, but we feel we’ve got the players to deal with it. We’ll concentrate more on them worrying about us and as long as we do the scruffy bits of the game right we feel we’ll come out on top.”

“They are going to want to come here and produce,” added Osborne. “But we’ve got more than enough quality to beat them. We’re a good team, we’ve got a good squad and had some good results recently so our confidence is growing which is even better.”

The full interviews with Barry Fuller and Karleigh Osborne and the thoughts of assistant manager Neil Cox ahead of the tie are available to Dons Player subscribers.

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