By Rob Cornell
Barry Fuller can’t wait to pull on the captain’s arm band for Wimbledon again and create a winning mentality within Neal Ardley’s new-look squad.
The long-serving right-back is now fully recovered from a shoulder injury, which ruled him out of the Dons run-in for last season as Paul Robinson did a solid job of taking on the captaincy. Fuller is ready to show his leadership qualities for tomorrow’s first pre-season game at Eastleigh.
“It seems like it’s been forever to be honest with you!” said Barry in an interview to our premium iFollow channel. “It’s nice to be back, to be honest. I had to have a day or two before I joined in again as Stuart Douglas (physio) checked up on me that I was ready to go, so it’s nice to be back and raring to start the pre-season games now.
“Everyone knows ‘Robbo’ is a leader, if he’s got that armband on or not, and from my point of view it’s great to be in the dressing room amongst the banter and on the training ground with the boys. I hated it when I was standing there watching the training as it’s something that really bugs me and for pre-season I’m like an excited kid knowing that I’ll be involved again.”
Despite displaying the battling characteristics again in training, the Dons defender is taking nothing for granted in terms of a place in the line-up as Neal continues to re-build his squad: “Hopefully I’ll be match fit for the start of August and who knows? I’ve got to try and earn my right to be back in that side.”
The hard work begins again at the Silverlake Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 3pm) and typically Barry is keen to create good habits from the beginning.
“National League teams want to win against us, just as much as we’ll want to win. The squad and the staff believe that if we start winning games in pre-season we hopefully go into that season with a winning mentality and we can start on August 5 with the right attitude.”
Barry is also enthused with Neal Ardley’s recruiting so far during the summer and feels the new players have quickly fitted into the Dons dressing room.
“Cody McDonald jumped in our ‘car school’ before we realised Jake Reeves was going! Me, George Francomb and Andy Barcham have all played with Cody previously. He’s a great lad, but we wish Jake all the best as he’s been a great servant to this club as he helped get us promoted to League One.
“Deji Oshilaja was phenomenal when he came on loan to us and I think he offers something different to what the other centre-halves have. Obviously they’ve all got their different attributes and Deji is not as big as them, but he’s great in the air and it’s great to have him on board on a permanent basis.”
“Kwesi Appiah, like Deji, was brilliant when he came on loan. He scored goals and terrorised defences. His season in Norway has just finished and he’s on a beach now resting, but he joins up with us next week and we look forward to seeing him and hopefully he picks up where he left off before.”
The full interview with Barry Fuller, along with the thoughts of manager Neal Ardley ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Eastleigh, are available to subscribers of our premium iFollow channel.
To view a clip of Barry's interview, access our official YouTube channel via the link below.