Neal Ardley's update ahead of Reading challenge
Neal Ardley believes that a three-day training camp in Wales has brought his squad closer together with plenty of fun along the way, but he knows that the serious stuff starts tomorrow against Reading.
Pre-season really clicks into gear for the Dons from tomorrow as it begins a hectic spell of four games in eight days, including a match against Premier League Crystal Palace on Wednesday.
But Neal told Dons Player that the squad will go into it with spirits high and fitness levels improved after a week at Celtic Manor in Newport that achieved his aims.
“We got everything we wanted from it,” said Neal. “The training was really hard on Tuesday and the boys were really tired after that, but the training was exceptional on Thursday and they really stepped up to the mark. In between we played a round of golf and those who didn’t play used the spa.
“We also did a good bit of team bonding with players doing their initiation songs. The quality was good and they all stepped up to the mark. There was a lot of banter around that. Alfie Egan got up though and asked if he could take his phone with him and use it for the words. He forgot the words halfway through on the first take and second time around one of the lads decided to ring him for a bit of fun so he lost the words again! There was a lot of laughter at that and it was really good fun. They all really gelled well.”
, Darius Charles is set to get his first taste of pre-season action against Reading after shaking off a knee injury.updateAs mentioned in our previous
Neal also outlined his plans for managing the week ahead with everyone in the squad set to get game-time.
“We would have had just the Reading game and then the two games next week, but the Palace game was too good an option to turn down,” said Neal. “The only day they could do was Wednesday so we have kind of fitted the game in. It means that we cannot play too many of the same players against Reading and Palace. We need to balance the teams.
“I’ve sat down with Jason Moriarty (AFC Wimbledon Sports Scientist) to work out the minutes that everyone is having, providing there are no injuries, up until the Dagenham game. It’s virtually all the same, bar one or two who missed games. With Reading and Palace being tough games to win, we are going to balance the teams to try and get the minutes in. If we can get to the Dagenham game with no fresh injuries with everybody fit it will have been a fantastic week.
“It’s always hard when you come to a new club. You have to get a feel for the club and what the manager wants. We had it last season with our forwards. It took a month or six weeks for it to really kick in and understand what we wanted. We are constantly giving feedback to the players about their GPS stats, their work-rate, and tactical stuff. We’ve come a long way with it, but we are the only team in League 1 going into it with just a three-week summer break, rather than seven weeks.
“No one in the league is going to feel sorry for us, but at the same time you get a little bit of a hangover from it. By the time you have got over Wembley you are almost back in training. I think in the first couple of weeks players have found that tough mentally to get their heads around it, but we understand that.”
The full six-minute interview with Neal Ardley is on Dons Player and it includes an update from the manager about searching for new talent. An interview with Chris Whelpdale is also on our premium channel.