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Captain calls for mental toughness to pull through difficult spell

Interview with Barry Fuller ahead of home match against Bristol Rovers

16 February 2018

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By Chris Slavin

Captain Barry Fuller says that sometimes he can be a bit too vocal on the pitch, but he wants Dons fans to make plenty of noise tomorrow.

The 33-year-old, who overcame a career-threatening injury during his Gillingham days and also has previous experience of relegation battles, aims to lead Wimbledon through a difficult spell.

Speaking during an interview for iFollow, Barry said: "I'm very vocal – some probably say I don't shut up enough, to be fair! You have to be around and get the boys up for it. If someone is down they might need an arm around the shoulder or just a little pick me up.

"When I had difficult times, especially injury, I did turn to sports psychology. I think in football a lot of it is the mental side of the game. I think the gaffer is quite a big believer in that as well. Around the camp, you've got to keep believing – mental toughness. Obviously, it's been a difficult period, but we're mentally tough and we're ready to put it right.

"You've got to keep coming into training and make sure the camp is ready to train and work hard and put it right. We can't be moping around and dwelling on things, we've got to keep going.

"It's not just me as we've got a lot of experienced players here. We come in and try and keep it a happy place. We're disappointed with the results at the moment, but we've got to keep going as otherwise it gets more difficult if we were to mope about."

The full interview with Barry is available via the link above, and you can watch a short clip of it below.

From a defensive perspective, Barry is eager to play a part in plugging the gaps at the back and getting back to the resilient displays that helped AFC Wimbledon to climb the table in January.

"I called a meeting between the defenders and the goalkeepers so that we can air our own views," said Barry. "If it was as easy as that to pinpoint issues though, we'd have done that the first game we conceded in February!

"It's hard, but I think we've got to go back to basics. It may not be pretty at times, but we've got to clear our lines and defend, back each other up and support each other. It's not just a back four – it's a team game – but we're there and it's our job to keep clean sheets. Our priority is to get back, shut up shop and be really defensive and solid."

Barry issued a call to Wimbledon fans to again show their loyal backing and play their part in helping lift the side, when in-form Bristol Rovers visit tomorrow afternoon.

"The fans have been unbelievable, especially the travelling fans going all the way to Plymouth on a Tuesday night. With the support this club has got we know at home, when they get behind us, they are that 12th man and we tend to deliver and we'll keep needing that until the end of the season."

However, having gone from being the side that conceded the least amount of goals in the top four divisions last month to shipping four in Tuesday night's defeat to Plymouth, the long-serving right-back is motivated to avoid more awkward, long coach journeys home.

"Sometimes not a lot is said on the coach back," added Barry. "The gaffer will talk in the dressing room. The bus will be quite quiet for a little while and we discuss the game between ourselves. Wherever you sit on the bus, you end up talking about the game as you move around.

"Those long journeys can feel like they are ten or twelve hours long when you are losing. We talk about things and see how we can correct them."

Terrace tickets are available to buy for tomorrow's match, either in advance, or on the day. See our Match Details  article for more information.

The full interview with Barry Fuller, plus and extensive, in-depth chat with AFC Wimbledon coach Simon Bassey, are both available on our iFollow Dons video platform.

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