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Dons take strong squad

11 July 2016

Coach Simon Bassey looks ahead to pre-season opener

AFC Wimbledon coach Simon Bassey revealed the Dons will be taking a strong squad to Crabble to face Dover Athletic in their first pre-season friendly, but George Francomb won’t be involved.

Tomorrow night’s opening warm-up game for 2016/17 in Kent comes too soon for the Dons right sided midfielder, as the side play their first game since promotion play-off success at Wembley at the end of May.

“Everyone fit is going,” said Bassey in an interview to Dons Player. “We’re taking 22 players with us and they’ll all get 45 minutes, fingers crossed. George Oakley came back into training today and found it okay so we’ll start building him up as we go and George Francomb is not too far away hopefully, but won’t be available for this game.”

Francomb missed the victory over Plymouth Argyle in the League Two, Play-off final due to having surgery on a knee injury, but is on the way back.

“It’s early days for us,” added Bassey. “We’ve given the boys a good rest and we’ve only had five and a half sessions. We’re a little bit rusty still and we’re expecting nothing but that. It’ll be a good run out for us, 45 minutes workout and to get their legs going.”

“They’ve done 30 minutes maximum in a session, so it’ll be a good fitness exercise. They’ll go hard in their 45 minutes and it’s nothing more we’re looking for at this stage.”

The hosts finished fifth in the National League last season and made the end of season play-offs, losing out 2-1 on aggregate to Forest Green Rovers. Dover opened their pre-season with a 4-1 home win over Billericay Town on Saturday.

“They’ve done really well, they’ve lost a couple of players, but I’ve been to watch them a couple of times and they are a difficult side to play against. It’s one where there’s different systems, different styles, so it will be a good test for us.”

Bassey has, of course, been with AFC Wimbledon every step of the way from starting with the club as a player in the Combined Counties League to coaching in League One next season.

“It’s always great to have a few weeks off with a smile on your face and happiness in the memories, but I’m glad to be back,” he said in a reflective mood and on the return to training.

“I turned up fourteen years ago to be a part of it and to still be here fourteen years later, at the business end of it, is fantastic and the boys have been brilliant and we deserve everything we get.”

The full update from Dons coach Simon Bassey is now available to Dons Player subscribers.

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