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Neal on signing Connor

22 January 2016

Manager explains move for ex-Watford midfielder

Neal Ardley believes that AFC Wimbledon have acquired a quality player who is determined to prove a point with the signing of central midfielder Connor Smith from Watford.

Smith turns 23 in February and he felt it was the right time to swap a Premier League club for League 2, a decision that his new manager is delighted with.

Speaking during an interview for Dons Player, Neal Ardley said: “From our point of view it is a great signing. From his point of view the lad has come down three divisions to prove himself. For me, that is great because he is not just here on loan looking to get experience. He is here to fight for his future and ask us a question whether we want to offer him another deal.

“He is a hungry boy and the fact that he has come down three divisions to play for us tells me a lot about the character of the lad. I have watched Connor several times and I think he is the right age. He has played in the Championship, had a couple of loan spells, and he is ready to go.

 “We know we are getting a quality player. He has been training every day with the first-team so that’s how highly they regarded him. Watford were just quite realistic with the fact that they are in the Premier League and they have brought in more players, they knew his game-time would be limited.”

Neal added that Connor is just what the Dons need at this stage to provide competition for Dannie Bulman and Jake Reeves during the run-in.

“Dannie is a walking miracle with how hard he works, how many games he plays and the mileage he covers,” Neal said. “But we need to make sure we look after our players and we need that competition. We sometimes play a diamond or various formations depending upon the opposition and Connor gives us all those options. It will be good if he can go straight into the squad for tomorrow’s game and then have a week’s training with us. That will bring him along nicely for when he is called upon.”

 The full interview with Neal Ardley is now on Dons Player, along with an exclusive interview with Connor Smith. 

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