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Neal: we must stay strong

17 May 2016

Manager's update for Dons Player ahead of second leg

Neal Ardley has called on his whole squad to fight for the club cause at Accrington tomorrow night with a place in the play-off final up for grabs.

Speaking during an interview for Dons Player, Neal was reluctant to even contemplate the prospect of a date at Wembley because he says that Accrington offer such a tough proposition.

However, the Dons will go there with a squad containing several players who have been successful in play-offs before and Neal says he will be counting on that experience.

“We have got to get ourselves ready for every scenario," said Neal. “There are 90 minutes to go and within two minutes of the game starting it could be a totally different complexion. As a manager you know there are no away goals in this and there could be extra-time and penalties and you have to take these things into consideration.

 We can only do the best that we can and if we go in with that attitude we can take the pressure off ourselves.”Hopefully, they will do the job.. We will make sure that mentally they are in the right place and that’s when their characters will come out“I will be looking to the boys who have gone through the play-offs before. I will be looking at them to influence the others, just as much as the staff can. There is no blame culture here and we are fighting hard for each other.

Sean Rigg required stitches to a head wound after an incident in the first leg, but he’s raring to go for the second leg and Neal Ardley also confirmed that Paul Robinson is fine after a clash of heads on Saturday. As we mentioned on Saturday, George Francomb is out with a knee injury that required an operation yesterday.

The manager has been delighted with the way certain players have stepped up to the mark due to injuries and Neal was quick to stress the importance of the whole squad, ahead of such an important game.

“Callum Kennedy came into the team after an injury to Jon Meades and he has looked like he’s been playing all season,” added Neal. “I mentioned the other day that Tom Beere was potentially only in the squad on Saturday because Connor Smith was not fit, but he kept himself mentally and physically right and he did a wonderful job. You can go from zero to hero very quickly in this game and it’s the responsibility of all the boys to stay strong and not sulk. They must stay fighting for the team because we will need everybody. 

“There are a few boys who are not in the squad who want to travel and we are taking a large party with us. We are just trying to keep everyone together, including those who have played a big part in the season, whether they are fit or not. The players talk about team spirit and I know you hear about it at lots of clubs, but I have not seen one as good. We win together and lose together and that will be the case tomorrow night.

“Anyone who wants to talk about Wembley at the moment is miles off. We have to earn the right to get there. We have had a reasonably good start and got our nose in front, but we are a long way from it yet. I have a lot of respect for Accrington and they are a wonderful team. It could quickly swing the other way if we let a good team get the right people in the right areas. My message to our players is that as long as they give everything and fight as hard as they can for the club, our fans will appreciate them.”

Neal’s full update is now on Dons Player and an interview with Callum Kennedy will follow later.

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