By Chris Slavin
Neal Ardley said that it’s too early to assess the extent of Will Nightingale’s ankle injury, but the defender is ruled out for the trip to Walsall on Saturday.
The one negative to come out of Wimbledon’s impressive victory against Charlton was the first-half withdrawal of Nightingale, who was replaced by Darius Charles.
Speaking during an interview for iFollow, Neal said: “It’s not great news. Will’s ankle is still very swollen and we have to wait for that to settle down before we can examine it and see the extent of the injury. There is obviously every chance now that he will struggle to get back playing before the season runs out.”
The manager indicated after Tuesday’s victory against Charlton that it was a gamble to put Joe Pigott straight back in so quickly after his return to full training, but he said that now is not the time to be holding players back.
“Joe has done his work with the rest of the group today, so we will monitor it,” added Neal. “We haven’t got that much time to feel people back into the situation. Before you know it, the season will be over. We need to take these calculated gambles and put people on the pitch who can do a job for as long as we need them to.”
Neal is pleased with the form of his squad heading into the match at Walsall with players currently not in the first 11 giving him something to think about.
“The worst problem is when you don’t know where to look because the boys in the team are not doing it and those out of the team are not warranting a place,” said Neal. “I’ve been in those situations before. At the moment the boys on the pitch are absolutely flying and the boys on the bench are pushing them.
“I watch everything, including their body language, and how they train. You can see with some players when they have got their zip and confidence back. At the moment one or two who might have had little dips in form here or there are coming back to the boil and that can only be good for us. We are going to need everyone for the last five games.”
The full interview with Neal ahead of Walsall is available to watch via the iFollow link above. A more comprehensive preview of Saturday’s match will be on our official website tomorrow.