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Team news: Five new signings set to figure in Hornets Cup clash

Opportunities for Esseboom and Maloney too in first pre-season game

13 July 2017

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By Rob Cornell

All five summer signings for AFC Wimbledon will feature in Saturday's Football Manager Cup game against Premier League Watford at The Cherry Red Records Stadium (kick-off 3pm).

Assistant manager Neil Cox, speaking to our premium iFollow channel, has been impressed with midfielders Raoul Esseboom and Lewis Maloney in training this week and they will also feature for the Dons. Tickets are available for Wimbledon and Watford supporters in advance from our online ticket shop.

"They're all probably likely to get some time," said Neil about the new signings. "Maybe not so much for Kwesi (Appiah) because he's only just come back and we have to be careful as we want him for the whole season. Everyone will want to get a game under their belts as they know the season is nearly here."

"We've got a great bunch of players here and a bit of banter on the training ground as well. Kwesi can't wait to get started. He's had a look around and thinks we're putting a really good squad together. He looks bright and sharp and he's raring to go.

In addition to keeper George Long, defenders Deji Oshilaja and Callum Kennedy and strikers Cody McDonald and Appiah, the management team will give opportunities to Esseboom and Maloney.

"They've done exceptionally well in this week's training so they will both figure, but I'm not sure for how long on Saturday. Raoul has come in from Holland and we'll just see how he settles in to English football. Lewis has come in from Middlesbrough and we know a bit about him and he's settled in really well and he's a bubbly little character and we'll see how he gets on on Saturday as well."

Two players who won't be involved will be left-back Jon Meades and midfielder Tom Soares as they remain on the injury list.

"Meadesy is still a little bit off," said Neil in terms of the defender's availability. "Tom should be back training next week hopefully. It's just a minor thigh problem, but he should be back and we look forward to having them both back soon though."

Two younger players have impressed Neil as they have Neal Ardley, who spoke about defender Toby Sibbick and midfielder Anthony Hartigan making the step-up from the Academy at last week's "Meet the Manager" event.

"The young boys who have come in have done really well, under-21s players have been pushed up again. They don't look out of place. Anthony has come into the squad at a young age, he's been pushed up, but he's raring to go."

"He's a feisty little player who is a good footballer, but he's realising he has to have the strength behind him and show us what he's got."

"Those two have understood the training we've been doing that little bit better. Not just the fitness work, but the ball work. Both players took things on board really well and that's what we want from them. They take it on board and that's how they get games."

With last Saturday's game at Eastleigh called off, it's the Dons first chance to take matters off the training ground and put them into a match scenario at the stadium.

"Personally, for ourselves, we've been working on a lot of different things about with and without the ball. It'll be really, mostly, about getting through the minutes, staying fit and not picking up any injuries.

"The things we've been working on the training ground will help and gives a chance to play some shapes and patterns we've been working on, some interchange with the football and we'll see how we get on against a good Premier League side with a new manager in charge (head coach Marco Silva)."

The full interview with Assistant Manager Neil Cox is available to iFollow subscribers as he prepares to face one of his former clubs this weekend.

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