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Alan sets a key challenge

6 April 2016

Coach encouraged by display at Gillingham

Alan Reeves has urged AFC Wimbledon’s young crop to finish the season strongly and stake a claim to be part of the first-team set-up.

Though the Wimbledon development side suffered a 3-2 defeat at Gillingham yesterday, Alan was encouraged by the overall display and he wants his players to build on it.

Speaking during an interview for Dons Player, Alan Reeves said: “It’s important that they finish the season strongly, especially with the first-team aiming to get into the play-offs. If the the likes of David Fitzpatrick, Connor Smith and Will Nightingale can put more pressure on first-team players to keep them on their toes, it will be beneficial to the first-team. As regards the younger lads, it’s a work in progress. To be fair, they are always learning all the time. They are willing listeners and it’s a given that they work their socks off in every game.

“I said to the boys (after Gillingham) that they should be disappointed by the result, but not by the performance. The lads absolutely worked their socks off against an experienced Gillingham side including a lot of first-teamers. The lads are all gutted because they felt they should have won the game, but they have to learn from their mistakes.

“Following a first-half that Gillingham shaded, there was only one team in it for 30 minutes of the second-half and that was us. We conceded two late goals from corners and they were both mistakes really, but I thought we were excellent in the second-half. I want to get them into the first-team as soon as possible. If and when they do make the step-up, they cannot afford to make these mistakes in front of 4,500 supporters.”

Alan was impressed by the return of centre-back Will Nightingale after injury and he praised the quality of Callum Wilson’s second-half goal.

“Will was a man-mountain and won every header,” said Alan. “He had two decent first-team strikers up against him, but they did not really get a chance. It’s a work in progress for Will because he’s been out a long time. He will probably get an hour or so next week and we will start to build him up to getting a full game.

“It was a great strike from Callum. It was one of those when you unleash and see where it ends up. More often than not they don’t go in. Luckily for Callum, he’s redeemed his mistake after an own goal, which was unfortunate, with an absolute screamer into the top corner.”

Full interviews with Alan Reeves and Will Nightingale featured this morning on Dons Player.

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