Manager's update for Dons Player ahead of Northampton
Neal Ardley said he will check on the fitness of Tom Elliott and Andy Barcham before selecting his side to face League 2 leaders Northampton tomorrow.
Elliott (pictured in action versus Oxford above) came off with a knee injury in Saturday's game and Andy Barcham (hamstring) was also substituted in the latter stages. Neal will therefore assess whether both are fit enough to be included for the match at Sixfields Stadium.
Speaking during an interview for Dons Player, Neal said: “Tom got a whack early in the game and I could see with 20 minutes to go that he was starting to flag. He looked like he was carrying his injury a bit so we brought him off. He is a doubt. I did say after the game on Saturday that it was not a tactical switch bringing Tom or Andy off, they both had niggles. They are both doubtful, but we will try and give everyone the extra day before naming the team. We will do all of that tomorrow in the hotel. Other than Tom and Andy, everyone else is ready to go.”
The Dons take on a Northampton side currently 10 points clear at the top of League 2, but their six-game winning streak was ended with a 0-0 draw at Hartlepool United on Saturday. It’s a big test for the Wimbledon squad, but one Neal Ardley is relishing and he was encouraged by the manner of performance in defeat against Oxford on Saturday.
“These are great games and sometimes when you are playing at home against teams down there it’s much tougher because of the expectations,” Neal said. “We are looking forward to it. It is exciting because Northampton have a lovely ground, a great pitch, and they have a very good team in a great run of form.
“The expectation is less, but that is not in our dressing room and is a general overview from people outside the club. All we can do is our best and I’m not getting too hung up on it. We played really well on Saturday and did the best we could, but moments went against us in a game and that’s football.
“If there’s something glaring that the team is missing over a run of games then you need to show them because they might not think that’s the case. With team meetings and video analysis you have to show them and tell them what you feel. When that time comes as a manager it’s your job to do it. But it’s also my job after a game like Saturday to tell them how good they were.
“I’ve watched the game back and Oxford had three really good chances and scored twice. We have had 10 or 11, including goalmouth scrambles and shots cleared off the line. Credit to Oxford because they put their bodies on the line and defended everything they could, but if there was one team who looked like scoring throughout, it was us. So I told the boys that most of the game was spent in their half, most of the chances came for us, and we were by far the better team. I needed to tell them that, just like when they are not good and I tell them how bad they are!”
The full six-minute update from Neal Ardley ahead of Northampton is now on Dons Player and an interview with Jon Meades will follow shortly.