Neal interviewed for Dons Player ahead of Fleetwood
Neal Ardley says it will be a difficult test to do without Jon Meades and Barry Fuller on Saturday against Fleetwood, but he is confident that those selected to fill the gaps will not let anyone down.
With both full-backs suspended and Darius Charles (thigh), Andy Barcham (hamstring) and Sean Kelly still ruled out, the manager will be relying on the depth of his squad to shine through.
Speaking during an interview for Dons Player, Neal said: “Sean is not quite ready to play yet and we have the suspensions for Barry and Jon – that was a big negative from the other night. To have two full-backs missing is going to be a big test and it will feel a bit patched-up come Saturday. But with this group of players and the way that they go about their work, along with the collective effort they put in for each other, I am sure we can give a good account of ourselves.”
The Dons will be boosted by the return of in-form midfielder Dean Parrett, who missed the battling draw at Millwall due to suspension.
Eighteen-year-old Seth Owens made his full league debut in the 5-1 win against Bury and Neal has been pleased with the way he’s coped after stepping up to first-team football.
“Last week we looked at the Bury game and thought it was the right game to dip his toe in,” added Neal. “We thought the midweek game when Jon Meades was fit would probably be the right one for experience. Now Seth may get the opportunity to come back in if we choose to go down that route. I am sure he would not let us down.”
Neal was quick to salute the influence of goalkeeper James Shea on his defence before Wimbledon face a Fleetwood side he rates highly.
“James is a big part of it,” said Neal. “He has looked more confident than I’ve ever seen him and that goes back to the players. When you have a goalkeeper who has got his aura and his mojo back, it spreads wide across the back four. With our centre-backs, I would be confident to play with any of them together as they would all do a good job.
“Paul Robinson does not put a foot wrong and Chris Robertson has come in and done brilliantly. Whether those two, Darius or Will plays, I would be happy and we are lucky to have them all.
“There are four or five really strong teams in this league and they are all thereabouts at this moment. The rest are kind of fighting to be in the top-six, eight or 10. Fleetwood are a good team with a good manager. They have players with experience and know-how over the last few years. They have added real good quality players and ones I’ve liked in the past. They’ve had a good week so they will be coming down to London in good spirits.”
The full update from Neal is on Dons Player and an interview with Dean Parrett will follow tomorrow.