By Rob Cornell
Centre-back Paul Robinson is looking forward to teaming up again with with new midfielders Jimmy Abdou and Liam Trotter – starting with tonight's friendly at Wycombe (kick-off 7.45pm).
The trio helped Millwall to League One Play-off final success at Wembley against Swindon Town seven years ago. In the past fortnight, "Robbo" has been reunited with the midfield pairing that he captained to victory.
"Jimmy has unbelievable fitness and energy and gets around the pitch really well and at times he would mark two players and take care of them in one go!" said Paul of Abdou, who joined on a season-long loan before the victory over Watford ten days ago.
"He was that athletic and could get around so much. He's done a brilliant job for Millwall and I had the pleasure of playing behind him for many years and he was a great player around the place and always smiling and always happy and he'll bring a lot of good qualities. "
Neal Ardley had targeted one of Paul's former Millwall colleagues and ended up getting both central midfielders from a successful era at our South London rivals, when free agent Liam Trotter also committed to the Dons last Friday.
"Liam is another excellent addition," added Paul. "To see him walk in is great and gives the place a real lift and you look at the quality of players the manager has brought in and it's great for the football club. You can see he's taken it up to another level and to get a player of Liam's quality at this stage in his career is excellent for Wimbledon and I'm sure the fans will enjoy watching him.
"That bit of knowhow and experience of knowing how to do it and having done it before is brilliant to bring into the squad and that can only be infectious for other squad members and - like I say - we're looking to take the team and this football club forward and they'll be a big part of that."
A player who had a very big part to play in Wimbledon's play-off climb out of League Two was, of course, Bayo Akinfenwa and the Dons defender is up for the challenge of taking on "The Beast" in a Wycombe shirt at Adams Park this evening.
"Bayo has got a lot of friends here and became a 'talisman' and I'm sure it'll be nice to see him and I'll probably have to be one of the centre-halves that has to wrestle with him on the pitch! I think the fans will appreciate seeing him and he's a great person to be around so it's always good to catch up with Bayo."
The Dons go into the game, for The Cherry Red Records Cup, with two wins and having already claimed silverware in the form of The Football Manager Cup this pre-season and "Robbo" believes it's helping to create a winning environment when the season gets underway on August 5.
"The final two weeks of pre-season now focuses the mind and the last couple of friendlies before the big start at Scunthorpe. It's the final preparations before we make sure we're ready to go."
"The training and matches have gone well. Obviously pre-season is different from the season and I think you see teams that have really good pre-seasons and then don't follow on, but I believe you create good habits now and the boys have been working really hard and trying to do what Neal is asking us to do and put that into practise on the pitch.
"Two good performances and two home victories, which is always good, and I think we're enjoying the new pitch and surroundings at the ground and it's a good atmosphere in the squad and now we're looking forward to the trip to Wycombe."
The full interview with Paul Robinson is available to iFollow subscribers in which he talks further about the emergence of the Academy graduates in Neal's plans this pre-season.