Ben and Dan know what manager expects from them
Left back Ben Harrison and midfielder Dan Gallagher know what’s expected from them if they want to be a part of manager Neal Ardley’s first team plans.
The talented duo spoke to Dons Player after the development side lost 3-2 to Luton at Hitchin Town FC, in their bid to make up ground on league leaders Bournemouth.
Harrison made quite a breakthrough into Neal’s plans last season, which culminated in being nominated for the LFE’s Apprentice of the Year. He has recently returned from a loan spell at Ryman Premier Tonbridge Angels and took the captain’s arm band for the Final Third Development League game.
“He said my forward play has got to be better and when I get forward I need to know what I need to do - so it’s about talking, especially when you’re in with the first team training. I need to keep working hard and go from there really,” said Harrison.
Gallagher (pictured) was again named as a substitute at the weekend, at the Globe Arena for the 2-1 defeat to Morecambe in League Two. Having also earned a deal last season, he was named as one of the League Football Education’s 11 – an accolade that recognises young players for their achievements both on and off the pitch during the last campaign.
“As a midfielder coming up from the under-18s I always used to keep things simple, playing backwards, forwards and sideways. Now I need to come forward more and play into the strikers and the wingers. I think it’s coming along quite well, but it’s difficult when we don’t have quite so many games,” said Gallagher.
“It was a tough game,” added Harrison. “The pitch wasn’t great, but we can’t use that as an excuse. We didn’t help ourselves, we didn’t make enough tackles, we didn’t create enough chances and some of the quality from certain areas wasn’t good enough. It was frustrating, but we’ve got them next week so hopefully we can rectify that and get a result.”
“As Ben said, the pitch wasn’t great at all,” added Gallagher. “It was bobbly and hard to get the ball down and play, so Alan told us to play quite direct and in behind and to be fair I don’t think we did that well enough. We should have played it in a little bit more for Toyosi (Olusanya) and Ade (Azeez), but when we did get the ball down and play we actually did alright.”
“I like going along with the first team on the bench or even as nineteenth man,” said Gallagher. “I do the warm up with the first team and it is good recognition for me and I like being in and around it.”
“I thought the loan I had was really good,” said Harrison. “It was good to go out and get some minutes, especially at a time when the under-21s weren’t getting games. It was good because - with no disrespect Tonbridge - you go there and come back here and you realise how lucky we are. You come back here and work harder and hopefully soon I can be like Dan and be in and around the first team squad.”
“Ben has just got to keep learning,” said Development coach Alan Reeves. “He has to keep organising the other lads. He had two young lads inside him in Toby Sibbick and Paul Kalambayi at centre-back and the more he can communicate to those two boys it will help him with his own development.”
“You know what you’re getting with Dan, he works hard week in, week out. Maybe he was one of the ones that suffered from not playing for a month. As fit a lad as Danny is, he needs to be playing games. I’d like to see him a little bit sharper,” added Reeves on Gallagher’s latest performance.
Both players had words of encouragement for Republic of Ireland under-19 centre back Ryan Sweeney, who they came through the AFC Wimbledon Academy ranks with together. Sweeney took to first team duties well, after the loss of regular choice Karleigh Osborne due to injury.
“We both know ‘Sweens’, he’s a great guy and deserves the credit,” said Gallagher. “He’s a great player as well.”
“He’s looked comfortable to me,” added Harrison. “I’ve seen a couple of his games, obviously when I was on loan I missed a couple, but other than the sending off (against Morecambe last Saturday) I think he’s done really well, looked comfortable and didn’t look out of place one bit to be honest.”
Gallagher also had words of encouragement for Alfie Egan, who made the headlines during AFC Wimbledon under-18s FA Youth Cup run this campaign. Egan has also just received the same recognition as his midfield partner did last season, being named one of the LFE 11.
“He’s progressed really well. He is great on the ball and has great energy. I love having him in midfield with me as he does quite a lot of the running, even though I do quite a bit as well! I think we complement each other quite well.”
The full interview with Dan Gallagher and Ben Harrison is now available to Dons Player subscribers.