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Tough choices for Neal ahead of Pompey

Manager's update from training ground for iFollow

7 September 2017

By Rob Cornell

Neal Ardley said that he has tough choices to make ahead of Saturday's League One home game with Portsmouth.

"Positions are up for grabs – everywhere - from centre-backs, right the way through to centre-forwards," said Neal in his weekly round-up from the training ground to our iFollow Dons premium channel.

"There are a lot of decisions to be made – is Harry (Forrester) quite ready? Who plays in the middle? Who plays up top? There's loads of tough decisions for me, but that's my job.

"People need to be on their toes, we've got three tough games coming up. I need to trust the squad and not keep flogging them.

Jimmy Abdou will be missing from midfield as he begins a three-game ban for the straight red card he received in last Saturday's defeat at Blackpool. However, as well as game time for attacking midfielders Tom Soares and Harry Forrester (pictured above) for the development side in midweek, there was also the welcome sight of defender Darius Charles back working with the squad.

"Darius is training well with the group, he's been doing a lot of work with Jason (Moriarty) and Dougy (Stuart Douglas)," said Neal. "It doesn't quite replicate those minutes you get on the pitch though, so we may look at arranging a game in the next week or ten days so that we can top everybody up. Ultimately, going into the next six to eight weeks we're going to need everybody."

The only long-term injury concerns at present are left-backs Jon Meades and Seth Owens, who has had a MRI scan on a knee injury.

"We've been going through elements of things we need to get better at," said Neal. "It's been a bit of a mix of players this week – what with the development squad game – so tomorrow will be the first time as a group that we come back together again for a proper training session. We'll concentrate on match analysis and 11 v 11 work.

"We need to become a bit more of a cohesive team and everyone need to take responsibility – from me through to the players and what we're trying to do and how we're trying to achieve it along with any grey areas.

"Ultimately, it's a game of football and sometimes the quality doesn't quite come off, but the only thing we can effect at the moment is the mentality towards it. We need to focus on the way we're trying to do it and not hide from that or go into our shells.

"We've got pace and attacking players and we need to try and use it and have a little bit of a structure to it.

"For me, results will come when elements of the play improve. We haven't been a million miles away from where we need to be and the league is stronger – and I said that right from the word 'go'. You start to look at a lot of the big clubs and the teams that have started well and we need to buck our ideas up and do it quickly."

The full update with Neal ahead of Saturday's game is available to subscribers of iFollow. Alan Reeves and Tom Soares are also interviewed after the development squad won at Bournemouth. An interview with centre-back Paul Robinson about facing his previous club Portsmouth will follow tomorrow.

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