By Rob Cornell
Alfie Egan has been going the extra mile over the summer as he looks to force his way permanently into Neal Ardley's midfield plans.
"I feel like I've improved as a player," said Wimbledon's match-winner against Watford on Saturday. "I'm getting better and better and there's still a lot more to come, but I just want to keep on improving really. I can remember sitting here talking about signing my first pro contract and getting ready to play Chelsea in the FA Youth Cup. A lot of things have changed, but I feel that I've improved as a player.
"I did two weeks with a coach to get me ready. That kept me sharp and it's really helped me. I knew I had to put in the work because I have a few aims and goals for myself that I want to reach. I've got to put in the work to get the results really."
Alfie is also pleased with the progress made by two other AFC Wimbledon Academy graduates, who have greatly impressed Neal and his coaching staff so far in pre-season.
"Toby Sibbick and Anthony Hartigan both had a great afternoon on Saturday and I know that's what they can do and they're going to prove it to everyone else," added Alfie. "They are great players and great lads as well."
"You can tell in training that the new signings are good lads and great players as well and they're fitting in really well."
With his fine, low strike against the Hornets on Saturday, beating goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann, Alfie is making a habit of upsetting Watford late on!
Just a couple of seasons ago his headed goal at Vicarage Road forced an FA Youth Cup tie to extra-time and victory after a penalty shoot-out, on the way to helping beat Newcastle United at St James' Park in the next round.
"I do like scoring against Watford!" said Alfie, with a smile. "To be fair, Jayden had a shot and it's just bounced back to me and there's just a bit of luck there and I thought if I get this on target, it could go in - so I'm really pleased.
"Watford are a great team. They pass and move it well and it's hard to get really close to them. You've got to know when to go and when to sit and that's the standard now. I don't think anyone is going to get any better than that. If we're beating them, then hopefully we can carry on and beat the teams in our league."