Kennedy and Rigg on fighting for Wimbledon
Defender Callum Kennedy and winger Sean Rigg are not only team mates, but good friends who push each other on for AFC Wimbledon.
Both were regular picks on signing for the Dons, but manager Neal Ardley made clear at the start of this season they would have to fight to get into his starting eleven and it's a challenge that both have responded to.
. Daggers Kennedy and Rigg sat down in front of the Dons Player camera at the training ground yesterday, ahead of tonight's crucial League Two trip to relegated Dagenham and Redbridge. A clip of the eight minute interview can be seen by clicking on
On Saturday, both came off the bench to help the Dons over the line in the 1-0 victory over Crawley and keep Wimbledon on course for the play-offs.
“It was nice to be back in the side. Obviously it's been a while and good to help the lads get the victory,” said Kennedy. “It was an unbelievable goal! Good bit of play down the right and the ball in from Barry (Fuller) and Robbo (Paul Robinson) came up with a really important goal,” added Rigg.
“This guy doesn't miss a celebration!” said Kennedy. “I'm always there every time!” responded Rigg.
Kennedy has been restricted to just eight appearances and eight as a substitute this season, but has called upon his team-mate to help him achieve the levels Neal Ardley requires again - it’s a friendship that works both ways.
“Sean is a winger and in my eyes he’s one of the best at taking players on and I want to work on myself so I ask him every day we’re in for training to take me on a few times and do one-on-ones and it can't do any harm,” explained Kennedy.
“You've got to push yourself every day and to have a good friend that wants to do the same that you do really helps. Some days one of us won't fancy it, but the other one will drag us over there just to make sure we get it done, so it's like Callum says - doing those daily things throughout the season will eventually pay-off,” added Rigg.
One of the main reasons Kennedy has to battle for a place is the form of Jon Meades at left-back, since his return to the club in the summer after leaving Oxford United.
“I've always said from day one, that if I'm the manager and the team is winning and I'm playing well I would expect to keep my position,” said Kennedy “Obviously I want to play and I’ve been a bit frustrated and upset at times and that's just because I want to be playing, but that doesn't take anything away from the fact of how I know Meadesey has been playing. If anything, it's made me work harder and raise my levels and do extra work every day and know that when I do get my chance it's up to me to take it as I think Meadesey has been different gear.”
That chance came again on Saturday with Kennedy called into action from the bench just after the hour mark with Meades struggling with an injury.
“Ashley Bayes (goalkeeper coach) says ‘it’s the team that starts and squad that finishes’ before every game and to be honest we've got a really strong one anyway, but there's a real good ethic around the place and a really good attitude between us all. Darius Charles came in and he said he's never really been at a team and seen so many players in the gym working on themselves and I think we take that for granted a bit because we do that every day, but when you look back at the end of the season it's those little bits that can add up.”
It’s a work ethic shared by Rigg, with nineteen appearances and nineteen as a substitute to his name so far this campaign.
“I think there's a battle for every position,” he said. “It's been a tricky one for me. Obviously I've been in and out and had a couple of small injuries that put me back out of the team and then it took me a while to get back in. It's good to have competition, but I've stayed on top of my fitness so that I'm ready if called upon so I could go straight back in and feel fit. Yes, it's tough, but that’s what you want and later in the season like now, when we’re pushing hard for promotion, that's when you need multiple players in each position.”
“I think the squad as a whole needs to stay together and the likes of myself and Callum need to be ready in case we're called upon. We’ve spoken about high intensity football from the beginning and quick starts and forcing it on teams. I think we’re a fit team and they look after us in that way by giving us plenty of rest.”
Throughout the current Wimbledon squad there are players with experience of gaining promotion and both Kennedy and Rigg have had their share of successes.
“When I was on loan at Rotherham we just fell short and we didn't quite make the play offs,” said Chertsey-born Kennedy. “With Swindon we went up automatically once, but another time we went through the play offs and ended up losing in the final which wasn't a nice feeling. Looking back though it was quite an achievement to take the season that far and it was just a disappointment that we fell short right at the last hurdle.”
“I got promoted in my first year as a pro with Bristol Rovers (the 2007 League Two play-off final),” said Rigg. “Since then though I’ve always just missed out by a couple of places with Oxford and Port Vale. I think Port Vale went into administration and we got deducted ten points and that was tough because I think we'd have scraped in if that hadn't happened. Hopefully, this year we have five big games left and we get up there through the play-offs.”
“Everywhere you look there's competition for places, it's a really strong squad,” said Kennedy in summary. “I think the gaffer must have had a headache all season in terms of picking his best eleven!”
“I don't think I’ve been somewhere before where the squad has been so together. Of course people are upset when they’re not playing, but when everyone's willing to chip in and pull together and if you’re not playing and you’re called upon you’re there to do the job - not sulk - hopefully good things happen when you work hard - and that's us!”The full interview with Callum Kennedy and Sean Rigg is now available to Dons Player subscribers and an update from manager Neal Ardley ahead of tonight’s game at Dagenham and Redbridge is also on our premium channel.