Striker back in the frame for trip to Kassam Stadium
Tom Elliott will provide an extra attacking option for the Dons at Oxford United on Saturday after he returned to full training.
The striker has been out with a knee injury, but he is back in contention for Wimbledon’s trip to the Kassam Stadium.
With Bayo Akinfenwa and Jon Meades having also been given the all-clear after suffering knocks, Neal Ardley has virtually a full squad to choose from and he was in optimistic mood during an interview for Dons Player today.
“Tom is back in training,” Neal told WDON commentator Rob Cornell. “He can still feel his left knee a little bit, but he has come through training well and he is fine. Bayo missed the early part of the week just to get his hamstring right, but he has trained. Jon needed a day of rest, but other than that he has trained.
“It is all systems go and the squad is getting back to where it should be. It is an exciting game. We are going away to a top-five team in really good form and they are one of the better teams in the league. It will tell us a little bit about where we are.”
AFC Wimbledon are likely to include three former Oxford United players in the squad for Saturday with Dannie Bulman, Sean Rigg and Jon Meades having all had spells at the Kassam Stadium. Meades has been rejuvenated since re-joining the Dons after hardly featuring during his time at Oxford and Neal is delighted with his contribution so far.
“I know what I am getting with Jon and he does not do a hell of a lot wrong,” added Neal. “In the first season we had him (on loan) I played him in several positions because of what we were at the time. I have always felt though that if he had a run at left-back he could be an outstanding left-back and at the moment he is proving to be that.”
This Saturday marks three years since Neal Ardley was appointed as AFC Wimbledon manager and he is positive about the squad he has assembled ahead of the meeting with Oxford.
“I think we have gone from a struggling team in League 2 for a couple of seasons to a team that was a mid-table team last season,” Neal added. “We want to be a team this season that are close to having a chance of going up. I think we are good enough, it is just about whether we can be consistent enough.
“That is what I want to bring. It has to be about getting us out of the league. We’ve had the success in the cup and produced our own over the course of the last couple of seasons. But ultimately, the fans will rightly be saying we want to challenge at the top and have a bit of excitement. That’s what we’re trying our best to do.
“Oxford had a very good summer and they did very good business. They look a decent team. We feel that we had a decent summer too though and that we are finding our feet. I think both teams are better than they were last season.
“They will have a threat as Kemar Roofe is playing well and we know all about Danny Hylton. They also have Ryan Taylor and a young lad they signed on loan from Wolves called Jordan Graham. I liked him when he was at Villa and he was a talent back when he was playing for England Under-16s. They also have Liam Sercombe in midfield and are not conceding many goals.
“We feel that we are playing well. Another manager went away from our place on Saturday saying that his team did not pass the ball well and they were not athletic enough. It was the same after Notts County and Northampton. It seems to be a common theme, but maybe they were not quite at it because we are quite good.”
Neal Ardley’s full seven-minute update is now on Dons Player and an interview with Sean Rigg will follow tomorrow.