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Neal aims to capitalise on feel-good factor after new stadium boost

In-depth update for iFollow as the Dons prepare to face league leaders

14 December 2017

By Chris Slavin

Neal Ardley hopes that there will be a special atmosphere around the place to lift the players against Wigan on Saturday.

After the signing of the section 106 agreement confirmed that Wimbledon will be returning back to Plough Lane, Neal sat down for an interview with iFollow before preparing his team to face the League One leaders.

"Following the news, I hope there is a real buzz about the place," said Neal. "It will certainly be something in my team-talk. We cannot guarantee a result against top of the league, but hopefully what we can do is send out a team that gives everything with a really passionate, high energy, performance. Then we will see what happens. If we do that, I'm pretty sure our fans – with the mood they should be in - will get behind us and cheer. Hopefully, we can make it a really good day.

"The fans have had such great news and we want the performance to reflect well on that. A lot of hard work has gone into the stadium and the wonderful news that we've had puts a little bit more on my shoulders. We want to produce a performance that makes the fans clap us off at the end. That has to be our intention and we have to give it our all, like we did in the last game against Charlton, and we want the fans to say, 'we had a right go', whatever the result."

Neal provided a positive bulletin on Kwesi Appiah's return towards fitness after a hamstring injury that has kept him out since September and there was also good news about midfielder Anthony Hartigan.

"Kwesi has been back in training and he has worked extremely hard over a number of weeks with Jason Moriarty," added Neal. "We are at that point when he broke down before and we wanted to make sure it was right. Kwesi has trained well this week and he has looked sharp, to be fair to him. He is due to play for Alan Reeves in the Under-21s on Tuesday, but there might be a possibility that we have a look and see whether or not he comes back into the squad with the rest of the boys.

"Anthony has had a bit of a problem with his knee. With his age, Stuart Douglas has taken his time with him and let it settle down. At the moment, he has just come back into training. It's one of those things that has come up a few times, so we are just monitoring it. He is still young and we don't really want him to have to go under the knife with it. Anthony has just come back into training, so we will see how he is in the next few days."

Neal said that Egli Kaja had missed training since Monday due to a knee injury and he is doubtful for Saturday's match.

Neal's thoughts on facing top-of-the table Wigan and his evaluation of the season so far feature in the extensive interview on iFollow. A full preview of the Wigan game will be on the official website tomorrow.


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