George Oakley among youngsters retained
Neal Ardley has challenged a quartet of young AFC Wimbledon talents to prove they can earn more opportunities in the first-team next season.
The club has taken up options to retain the services of academy products Egli Kaja and Dan Gallagher, along with goalkeeper Joe McDonnell. Striker George Oakley (pictured), who also rose through the youth ranks, has signed a new contract after his promising start to the season for the Under-21s was curtailed by a serious ankle injury.
Neal Ardley believes that all four have the potential to step-up and play League 1 football if they can continue to progress.
“We have been doing reviews and mapping out plans for their development at the club because they need to take their games onto a new level,” said Neal. “We are constantly raising the levels of the first-team and that means the young players have to continue improving. They train regularly with the first-team so they know what’s required to step-up.
“It is great for the work that Alan Reeves does with the Under-21s and we both hope that they can all kick-on next season. It’s a defining season for them and they have to show regularly that they can dip into the first-team when called upon.”
However, Neal confirmed that George Pilbeam, Callum Wilson and Ben Harrison have all left the club as he felt it was better for their careers to seek opportunities elsewhere.
“They have all adapted well to playing for the Under-21s, but if you think they are not going to get opportunities here then it’s the best thing for them to take a step sideways or backwards to reignite their careers,” added Neal. “Sometimes it’s best for all parties. With young lads like Ben, who did so great when he came into the first-team, we will keep following them. Players like Ben and Callum are Wimbledon through and through so we will give them everything we can.”
AFC Wimbledon thanks all three for their contributions to the club and we wish them every success in their future careers.