Centre-back aims to keep pushing experienced pair
Ryan Sweeney says he is learning plenty from AFC Wimbledon’s experienced centre-backs as the 18-year-old waits patiently for another first-team chance.
Sweeney enjoyed a taste of international football earlier this season with appearances for Ireland Under-19s after playing in three first-team games for Wimbledon at the back end of 2014/15.
Though he has yet to add to his first-team appearances this season with Paul Robinson and Karleigh Osborne forming a dependable partnership, Sweeney understands that he has to be patient for his opportunity.
“I am still young and I am learning every day in training,” said Sweeney. “I will continue to learn from players like Karleigh and ‘Robbo’. They have both played at a good level and they are really starting to click now. The manager was saying that the back four have not been penetrated a lot this season and they are playing really well at the moment. Hopefully, one day if I get my chance I can take it."
Sweeney progressed through the youth ranks at Wimbledon under the guidance of Mark Robinson and he believes that Alan Reeves has toughened him up as a defender.
“I spent a number of years with Mark and he is a great guy outside of football as well,” Sweeney added. “It is no surprise that one of his sides have gone on to do so well in the FA Youth Cup. I am really chuffed for him and it’s a great achievement for Wimbledon to beat academy teams from two Premier League clubs.
“Mark is a lot more technical, but Alan is trying to turn me into a League 2 centre-back. “He wants me to keep pushing on so that I can challenge for a centre-back spot. The manager wants me to keep the intensity going in training so that I will be ready for the battle if I do get put in.”
George Oakley is now ready to return to match action after putting a hamstring injury behind him. The 20-year-old striker’s loan spell at Kingstonian was cut short due to injury in November after he had scored on his debut. However, Oakley is back in full training and could feature for the development squad at Luton next Tuesday.
“It has been frustrating for me this season, but that’s football for you,” said Oakley. “In my head I have to stay positive and trust in my ability when I get back out on the pitch. I want to get back fluently playing games, rather than being in and out. I need to get games under my belt so that I can try and get back into the first-team squad.”