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Neal on boosting the squad

25 January 2017

Manager grateful for patience to take the club forward

Neal Ardley said that bringing in new talent from elsewhere is a course of action that has to be carefully balanced with the club’s desire to bring through home-grown players.

Speaking to Dons Player, Neal talked enthusiastically about youth development and helping the likes of George Oakley (pictured right with Paul Kalambayi) to stake a first-team claim.

“We succession plan, whether people believe that or not, I don’t know,” said Neal. “We look at what we have coming through and try not to fill the space if we think a player will be ready by a certain point. For example, if we think George Oakley needs to be a first-team player, we need to plan for that.

“In particular, the player we think we need to help the team through until the end of the season, we have probably not got down below or within our squad. Therefore we are still looking for that one player who may be able to add a certain quality to the group to take us forward. If we had it down below we would not be looking for it, I can assure you of that.”

In an extensive interview, Neal expressed his gratitude to the club and its fans for allowing him time to move AFC Wimbledon forward since taking over as manager in October 2012.

“We are a good club and a stable club,” added Neal. “For my first job in management, it was not easy in the first year with a relegation fight. We have a board and a set of fans who are patient. Over the years they have given their managers time to take the club forward and they have reaped the rewards for that. The unique story has come because managers have been given that time and there has not been rash decisions. I am proud to lead them and proud that I have spent so long here.”

  .Dons PlayerThe full nine-minute interview with Neal is now on 

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