Goalkeeper prepared to be patient for chance
Joe McDonnell believes that the coaching structure put in place at AFC Wimbledon has made him well-equipped to take his first-team chance if it comes his way.
After getting a taste of League 2 football last season by making four appearances, the 21-year-old goalkeeper is hungry for more, but he knows he has to be patient with James Shea currently filling the number one spot.
Having only switched to goalkeeper from striker in his late teens at Basingstoke Town – and even flirted with a career in cricket at Hampshire Academy – McDonnell is aware that he still has plenty to learn.
But he says that working every day with goalkeeping coach Ashley Bayes and playing regularly for the development squad is putting him on the right road.
“It’s hard to get chances when you are a second choice goalkeeper, but you have to take them when they come,” said McDonnell. “If I get a chance I will have to try my best to keep the shirt. Every day I am learning new things and that helps keep me going in a way. We go out with ‘Bayzo’ for training about 45 minutes before the outfield players to work on things. It’s been enjoyable since I joined the club. I have learned a lot, especially having stepped up from non league.
“We spoke in a meeting at the start of the season about targets for myself and what I needed to improve upon. Commanding the box was one of those and reading the game a bit so that I can come and take crosses. Kicking is another thing I need to work upon and make sure that I am consistently hitting areas.
“I’ve learned a lot from James. One of his key strengths is his composure in that he never looks phased by things when he is faced by a situation. His kicking is also good and he is a very good all-round goalkeeper.”
As well as being on the first-team bench, McDonnell has played all five development games this season and choosing football over cricket at the age of 16 is a decision he is pleased with.
“I was with Hampshire academy from the age of about 11 and I managed to get into the side,” added McDonnell. “I was a leg spinner, but towards the end I started to bat a bit more. I was with Hampshire until Under-17s, but I decided to go with football. I thought I was probably a bit better at football.
“The experience of playing four first-team games last season really helped me. I also played in the pre-season games against Basingstoke and Watford. Since then it’s gone really well playing for the Under-21s and working hard on my game every day in training.”