Academy product rises to the challenge at short notice
Will Nightingale only got told in the pre-match warm-up that he would be starting at Peterborough United, but the Dons academy product was far from daunted by the step-up to League One football.
Prior to Saturday, the 21-year-old had only featured for the first-team this season in the Checkatrade Trophy against Plymouth, but he said that he had been well prepared by the Wimbledon management team for a potential first-team call-up.
“I had probably played against four of their starting line-up for the Under-21s a few weeks ago so I did not see it as a massive step-up, but you have to be ready for any game that you play,” said Will. “Even though I had been named on the bench, I was told to be ready just in case. ‘Robbo’ was suspended and I knew Darius was struggling a little bit with a knock. I was told when I was doing the warm-up about half an hour before kick-off. It was still a bit of a shock, even though I had been prepared to play.
“It was nice to come in alongside Chris Robertson because I’d played with him a couple of times. The manager and our coaches have been trying to get me ready for the level we are playing at and they’ve done a great job in doing so.”
During the interview, which can be viewed on our official You Tube channel via the link above, Will also spoke about how much it meant to be playing at League One level for a club he joined at the age of nine. And he’s particularly proud of an unbeaten record for the first-team and development squad since he returned from injury!
“I’ve had a troubling time with injury, which most fans will know about,” added Will. “Since I got back from the injury that I suffered in September last year (against Notts County), I’ve played in 16 games and not lost while I’ve been on the pitch. Obviously, the best players in the world lose games and I know it’s going to go eventually, but it’s a nice record and I want to keep it going!
“It’s a surreal feeling because I’ve been watching AFC Wimbledon since Combined Counties League days. To be out there on the pitch at this level is amazing. I’m still learning in training from ‘Coxy’, Alan Reeves and the manager. I am waiting for my opportunity and whenever I am called on to play I will give 100 per cent. Everyone in the squad wants the same thing and that’s to be successful. We are all willing to help each other on and off the pitch and to give everything for the team.”