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Neal to check on the fitness of Tom Soares ahead of Walsall

Manager's team update before Walsall game

24 November 2017

By Chris Slavin

Neal Ardley hopes to have Tom Soares available for tomorrow's match against Walsall after the midfielder was substituted in the midweek draw at Oldham.

Soares (pictured) suffered an injury to his lower back/right glute, which caused him to be replaced at half-time and he will be assessed, but Will Nightingale is back in the reckoning after completing 90 minutes in the London Senior Cup.

"There are a few who we have to look at going into the game," said Neal, in an interview for iFollow. "Hopefully, Tom Soares will be available for selection. Will Nightingale is available again, so we have a few back in contention. If we can get Callum Kennedy, Kwesi and Dean back, we will have more of a selection issue."

The Dons had a tough match Oldham in midweek, but Neal hopes that the players will come back firing and raring to go with an opportunity on Saturday to prolong Wimbledon's unbeaten run to five matches.

"I had not realised that we were unbeaten in November," said Neal. "I had been just trying to focus on chipping away and getting results as we go along. I think it started with the FA Cup game against Lincoln when we really dug in to get ourselves into the next round. We've managed to keep that momentum going and the boys are really keen to try and keep it going. It would be great to finish the month on a high, before we go into a really busy Christmas schedule with some big clubs to play against.

"We have given the players time to freshen up with a little bit of a recovery period and we trained reasonably hard today. We wanted to try to get that feeling and intensity back into their legs, so hopefully we will take that into the game tomorrow. We cannot make excuses, it's the same for a lot of teams in this league. Yes, it is tough, and we did not get back until half three on Wednesday morning, so that is a slight disadvantage, but we cannot worry about that. We have to go out there, go at it hard, and do our best. If we are hanging on in the last 10 minutes and we are fatigued, then so be it."

Neal added that the return to goal-scoring form has really pleased him going into tomorrow's match, but he expects opponents Walsall to provide plenty of attacking threat too, particularly after their midweek win at Fleetwood.

"When we had our tough spell and we were under a bit of fire and criticism, it was the same thing in that everything we looked at said we were creating chances. We just did not have the belief and the players did not have the feeling enough of scoring. There is not too much you can do. You can work on it in training, but ultimately they need to feel it in games. All of a sudden, Lyle popped in a hat-trick, before scoring another, and Cody McDonald got his first, then scored again. They just feel good about themselves and that ends up with them putting it in the back of the net.

"We have players who can score goals, but we are a little light in our attacking options at the moment. Hopefully, we will get Kwesi back soon and try to add if we can. It is good signs from the four who are carrying the can up front at the moment.

"Walsall are a good footballing team. They had their sticky spell and I know Jon Whitney has been under pressure and that makes me laugh. You are not allowed to have a sticky spell anymore. Do Walsall have one of the biggest budgets in the league? I don't think so. They had a great win at Fleetwood in midweek. Jon did a great job last year and he is doing a great job this season again. They will come here buoyant after their midweek win and they have some very good players. It does not matter who we are playing against, if we are not at it, we will not win the game. If we are at it, we can beat anyone in the league and you hope that those moments fall your way."

The full update from Neal Ardley and an interview with Jon Meades are both on iFollow.

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