Skip to main content Skip to site footer
Club News

Neal's squad update before Eastleigh

Manager's thoughts ahead of first pre-season friendly

7 July 2017

Neal Ardley goes into tomorrow's pre-season friendly at Eastleigh knowing his Dons squad is still far from the finished article, but he is looking for positive signs from the outset.

"There's not one pre-season game we've got that is easy," said Neal in an interview to our premium iFollow channel. "You look and think – 'they've spent money, they're good, they're strong'.

"If we win them, then we've earned the right to win them, but I'll be looking for certain things within the game like our regains, things we've worked on, and patterns we've been working on. If some of those things come out in the first match, it will be a real positive for me."

"It would be nice to concentrate on the football, but you have to go through the process of getting to 20 to 21 players so that you can look at the squad and think that you're really happy with it. Sometimes you have to keep chipping away from the training ground to enable you to crack on."

As we announced yesterday, Neal will take a look at Dutch midfielder Raoul Esseboom and former Middlesbrough player Lewis Maloney, who also plays in the centre of the park.

Wimbledon fans will be keen to catch a glimpse of three of Neal's four new signings (including Cody McDonald, pictured above) and the manager is pleased with the early signs shown by his new additions.

"Deji (Oshilaja)has fitted in really well and Cody is like all forwards, they need the work and they need the sprints to get them up to speed. They are only going to improve. George Long has come in like he's been here for a couple of seasons and I can see the lads looking around and thinking - 'I'm more than happy with him behind me.'

"That's a good start, because you can see from the players that are already here that they give a little nod of the head and indidcate – 'I like this boy and I like what he's got' and that's always a good sign for a manager."

Striker Kwesi Appiah, who was Neal's first signing during the break, will not be in action at the Silverlake Stadium as the Ghanaian international was granted time off before joining up with the squad. He only recently completed his season in Norway with Viking and returns next week after a ten-day break.

"Kwesi joins up with us on Monday and he'll probably be ahead of the boys still because he's played so many games. It was important for the sake of our season that we gave him that bit of extra-time, so we haven't seen him yet and it'll be like having a new signing over the line."

Centre-back Darius Charles will play no part in pre-season having had a knee operation earlier this week, while left-back Jon Meades and midfielder Tom Soares are also unlikely to be risked as Neal will give opportunities to younger members of his squad.

"It's been good for Darius though, everything they'd hoped they would see," explained Neal. "His ITB band around the side of his knee was very tight and they've done a release on that to give it a bit more flexibility. That should cure all his problems and Darius can spend the next six weeks getting himself super-fit and have a mini pre-season and get back into full training.

"Jon Meades is making a little slower progression than we thought (after a knee injury). He's had his operation and we thought he might be back in training this week, but that's not the case so we'll monitor that. Tom Soares has been a week behind everyone because of his broken leg and he felt a few things, so we'll have a look at whether we include him."

Neal outlined his approach for the opening warm-up match against National League opposition.

"We've done a lot of work without the ball in the first week and with the ball in the second week, all within the fitness elements. We'd like the boys to win on Saturday, but we'll be looking for some of those things coming out as part of the first game."

"Everyone will get 45 minutes each and some of the young boys will be included and then we'll build-up to more minutes with a really good game against Watford at home the following Saturday."

The full preview with manager Neal Ardley is available to iFollow subscribers and an interview with Dons captain Barry Fuller will be available shortly.

Wimbledon supporters can pay on the day at Eastleigh with the following prices (our supporters can watch the game from any of the below areas):

Seats (Blue Stand) - Adults £10 each, Concessions £7.50 each

Terracing and Mackoy Stand – Adults £8 each, Concessions £5

The full address of the stadium is as follows:

Silverlake Stadium

Ten Acres

Stoneham Lane



Advertisement block