Neal Ardley delighted to have captured centre-back
AFC Wimbledon have taken centre-back Darius Charles on loan from League One leaders Burton Albion for the rest of the season.
Manager Neal Ardley was very pleased to have seen off competition for his top target, which includes a 28 day call back option in emergencies for Burton boss Nigel Clough.
“I’m absolutely delighted,” said Neal in an interview with Dons Player. “We’ve been looking for a long time for a centre-back, one with experience, one with knowledge. We looked at Darius over a month ago, but he was a little bit behind at that time in terms of being ready to play and we had to sit tight and look at various other options in the meantime.”
“He was due to have a game for their under-21s last week, which would have been the final piece in the jigsaw in terms of his recovery from injury, but it got called off. We then had to wait until he played on Monday, but Nigel Clough has been brilliant with us all along and spoke to me on Tuesday. They put it to Darius, they had quite a few clubs sniffing around and wanting to sign him, but he was very keen to come here.”
“I spoke to Darius several times in the summer,” Neal revealed. “We’re delighted to have him.”
The 28 year-old defender, previously with Brentford, Ebbsfleet and Stevenage, reinforces Neal’s backline at a vital stage in the campaign with the Dons looking to secure a League Two play-off place.
Charles joined the Brewers from Stevenage last June, but injuries have meant he is yet to play for the first team. He did come through 90 minutes on Monday as he captained Burton’s under-21s side against Walsall, having recovered from a hamstring injury.
In 2011 he was a member of the Stevenage side that beat Torquay United 1-0 at Old Trafford in the League Two Play-Off Final. The Stevenage side that day also included former Dons players Stacy Long and Byron Harrison. He has been capped at England C level.
“I’m really pleased,” said Charles during an exclusive five minute interview with Dons Player at the training ground. “AFC Wimbledon is a great club and not far from my home and it’s a pleasure to be here.”
“I believe there was other interest, but it was an easy decision for me to make if I’m honest. I know a few players here and I know Ashley Bayes (goalkeeping coach) and Neal, so it was a really easy decision to make. “
“I’d spoken to Nigel Clough at Burton and we felt I needed to get some first team football. Neal expects me to add to the squad and the good things the boys have already been doing so hopefully I can do that,” he added.
“I ruptured my ankle a year ago and I’d been making progress from that injury and was coming back and doing well, but unfortunately I tore my hamstring in my rehab, but now I am back fully fit and hoping to give my best to the club.
Charles is also good friends with Karleigh Osborne, whose place he is now set to take in the Dons defence due to Osborne’s injury and Ryan Sweeney’s suspension.
“Karleigh is a great friend of mine. We’ve been playing football together and friends since the age of ten so we’ve known each other for about eighteen years now. He’s a great friend, a great player and some big shoes to fill so hopefully I can do him justice!”
Dons Player subscribers can see the full interviews with manager Neal Ardley and new signing Darius Charles on our premium channel.