By Chris Slavin
Neal Ardley today issued a positive bulletin on Barry Fuller’s fitness after he missed the last two Wimbledon matches.
Wimbledon’s captain has made good progress since missing the away defeats at Rotherham and Bury with a calf injury, but Will Nightingale (knee) is not yet ready to return. Dean Parrett increased his fitness with 80 minutes for the development squad in midweek and Neal hopes he can be in contention during a hectic spell of fixtures this month.
Speaking in an update from the training ground for iFollow, Neal said: “We are hopeful (that Barry will return). Unless something goes wrong, we are hopeful that he will be back involved. We have to train tomorrow as well and get through that. Will is another who is close, but we are not 100 per cent sure whether he is quite there yet, but, again, we will make those decisions tomorrow and count the bodies, including the players who played the other day. Andy Barcham got a whack on his foot and some of the boys who played on a heavy pitch will be tired. We will have to take a look; you cannot keep throwing the same team out every week and expecting them to produce.”
Dean Parrett could soon be another option in the centre of the park after making good progress in recent weeks.
“With Deano, his ability is not in question,” added Neal. “He is a player we know can do lots of good things going forward, he is a talented boy, but you need to be fit to play. He has been out for a hell of a long time. He was unfortunate that we had development games called off recently, but he has got 65 minutes and 80 minutes under his belt. It brings him into the reckoning for a busy period, but realistically we will have a really strong group of 20/21 players. Fingers-crossed, we will have decisions to make about who even gets on the bench soon. Everyone needs to stick together, not sulk, and keep driving us forward.”
Our manager revealed that the management team and squad watched the Bury game back to establish exactly what went wrong in that disappointing defeat.
Neal said: “It was a lovely day off for me yesterday after getting in at 4.00 am! I went to a board meeting and had to watch Northampton footage to make sure I was up to date with them. I watched our game back as well and did my programme notes too! There were so many things wrong in the first-half, so many things that came away from the core values that we try to instil into the team. We had certainly shown them in January. I was pretty shocked by what I saw for 45 minutes.
“It’s hard as a manager when you have to change system and shape, bring subs on, just to try and effect the game. The boys had to see it, not because you are looking to dig anyone out, or show anyone up. We just have to see when we are not good, why, and what the reasons are. You cannot hide from it. We did that this morning and you draw a line under it and we move on. We try to put it right for the next games.”
The full interview with Neal is available via the iFollow link above and a more detailed preview of the Northampton game will be on the official website tomorrow.