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Trio vying for returns

23 December 2016

Team news ahead of trip to Southend United

Neal Ardley issued an upbeat bulletin ahead of the Boxing Day clash at Southend United with key players all back in contention.

Darius Charles (pictured) and Andy Barcham have shown no ill-effects after playing in the midweek London Senior Cup win, a game that marked their return after thigh and hamstring injuries respectively.

Jon Meades also returned to full training today after missing the 4-0 win against Port Vale due to an ankle injury.

Speaking during an in-depth interview with WDON’s Rob Cornell, Neal Ardley said: “I am delighted, it was a good battle for the team (against Corinthian Casuals), and those two came through it. We needed to get that edge back into them and they’ve got that now. They are back in contention for the first-team squad and it’s great because they are two really good characters. The boys who are in the team will feed off that. We have a busy period coming up and they will play their part.

“We have a couple of niggles. We trained at Sutton on Wednesday to get used to the 3G pitch and Tom Elliott felt his hip and his back, but I don’t see that being a problem. It is great to have the boys all firing and ready to go for Boxing Day.

“Jon had not trained all week, but he trained today so that’s a good start. He is going to see the specialist next week with ‘Dougy’, just to make sure we can keep going forward without interruptions. ‘Meadesy’ is a big player, but he has missed a lot of training days over the last month so we will just have to build him up steadily.”

Neal also updated us on Will Nightingale’s situation after he had an operation on his knee.

“Will had an operation on his meniscus on Wednesday," added Neal. “We are looking at six to eight weeks out for Will, but he will get rest, recuperation and spend Christmas with his family. Hopefully towards the end of February we will have a player back on our hands.”

As a hugely successful 2016 nears its end, Neal added that he’s very thankful for the support he’s received from the club, particularly during a tough introduction to management.

“For the board to take a chance on a young manager who had not worked in League Two, given the situation we were in, was huge,” said Neal. “I hope that I’ve repaid that. I’m thankful for the opportunity and the way that I’ve been treated. They let us run a football side and support us as much as they can. It is a great club and during this calendar year, more than ever, I’ve felt a real connection with the players I’ve worked with on the training pitch, and the club’s beliefs.”

  and an interview with Andy Barcham will follow on our premium channel tomorrow.Dons PlayerThe eight-minute update from Neal is now on 


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