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Neil stresses importance of league focus with Wembley on the horizon

Assistant Manager interviewed ahead of League One match at Bury

8 December 2017

By Rob Cornell

Neil Cox feels AFC Wimbledon have a "fantastic" cup tie to look forward in January, but he says that the focus now has to be on picking up league points with a busy spell coming up.

"That's our main priority at the moment," said Neil in an interview to iFollow Dons. "We have to put the FA Cup beyond us until the New Year."

Before focusing on this Saturday's League One encounter at Bury though, the Wimbledon assistant manager did allow himself a moment to reflect on Monday night's third round draw – which paired the Dons with Tottenham and a trip back to Wembley.

"I think it's absolutely fantastic for the club, the fans and the staff to go back to Wembley. Tottenham play really good football and they've probably not had the best of records so far (at their temporary home), so it'll be interesting to go there. The main aim was to get through to the third round and I don't think we could have got anything bigger really.

"Over the first few years as a player at Aston Villa I had a good record against Spurs, but later on in my career for Middlesbrough and for Bolton – not so much! I remember Ginola running me ragged a couple of time! Overall though, I think I had some good results against them."

Wimbledon face a different kind of test tomorrow, against a Shakers side that may now be turning the corner in what has been a difficult first half of the season for them.

Following Lee Clark's sacking, Ryan Lowe stepped in to steady the ship temporarily, which included a win over high-flying Shrewsbury in Bury's last home league game, but there has also been an FA Cup exit at the hands of Woking recently.

Chris Lucketti recently returned to the club he played for to take his first permanent job as a manager. In midweek the Lancashire club made progress in the Checkatrade Trophy with victory over Walsall.

"Ryan Lowe has done a good job for them, Chris Lucketti has just gone in and is a bit like myself that he's been in an assistant manager's role for a number of years," said Neil.

"He'll have learnt from Graham Alexander (at Scunthorpe). He's gone in there, he played for the club and will want to set out the way he's going to play. He's had a bit of time to work with them and I think it will be a really tough game for us."

Although the Dons exited the Checkatrade Trophy themselves at the second round stage to Yeovil on Tuesday night, Neil felt the game still served as a useful exercise for the squad.

"A number of them got competitive action and that was the main thing really. Obviously we had to go there a couple of days after the Charlton cup game and had to play a couple of players which disappointed us, but it was good to see Paul Robinson back in.

"Callum Kennedy increased his fitness and so too did Jimmy Abdou. It was a disappointing result, but the main thing is we get players ready for the Christmas period.

"Harry Forrester played a little bit more as he continues to work on his fitness. The young boys that played need to be pushing everybody because there are some big games coming that everyone knows about and anything can happen."

Attacking midfielder Alfie Egan was also back working with the squad in the build-up to Bury. He has returned to the Dons, after completing 28 days of a loan spell with National League leaders Sutton United.

The full update with Neil Cox and an interview with Wimbledon goalkeeper George Long are both available to subscribers of our premium iFollow Dons subscription channel.

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