Defender interviewed for Dons Player
Will Nightingale returned to match action ahead of schedule after being told his season was over, but he is not getting carried away about staking a first-team claim.
The 20-year-old academy product has received messages from supporters telling him that he will score the winner in the play-off final! However, Nightingale is taking it step by step after putting six months of injury misery behind him with a 45-minute run-out for the development squad at Gillingham yesterday.
Speaking during an interview for Dons Player, Nightingale said: “It’s a massive relief to be back because when I first got injured I was told I would not be playing again this season. It's been brilliant to be back out there with the lads after a long time out - 199 days to be counting! Just to get minutes under my belt before the end of the season so I can go into the off-season fit is good. I’ve missed it. It’s been tough watching first-team games, coming into training every day, and not being to do what I want to do. But I’ve worked hard and it’s nice to get back out there.
“A few fans have told me I may get the winner in the play-off final, which would not be a bad season! But I’m just going to keep working hard in training and making sure everything with me is all good. I should be getting more minutes for the Under-21s next week. If the opportunity comes about for me to be in the first-team I will make sure I’m ready, but if not, I am just happy to be back and my body is all fine.”
It’s been a long road to recovery for Nightingale since suffering a serious knee injury against Notts County in September, but the defender produced an assured return yesterday against a Gillingham development side that included first-team striker Bradley Dack.
“Though it is not going to replicate a first-team game, they had League 1 players in the team, including Bradley Dack, who is their top scorer,” added Nightingale. “He looked quite sharp, but I think we gave a good account of ourselves. If we can match League 1 players then we can show we are good enough.
“I came back into full training two weeks ago and I’m getting sharper all the time, I feel strong. The manager has told me to be careful though, he is being sensible about it. I expect I will get 60 or 70 minutes next week for the Under-21s. I cannot do anything careless because I’ve been out for six months, but the rehabilitation has gone well.”
The full interview with Will Nightingale is now on Dons Player, along with an interview with Alan Reeves after Gillingham yesterday.