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Neal praises Joe Pigott’s quality ahead of Rotherham

Manager interviewed as Dons gear up for tough test in Yorkshire

1 February 2018

Neal Ardley said that striker Joe Pigott will be given plenty of opportunities to build on his superb start at AFC Wimbledon.

The Dons head to Rotherham on Saturday for the first of seven games during February and Wimbledon's new number 39 has certainly boosted his chances of featuring by claiming a goal and an assist since joining.

Neal said: "If he can keep that run going, we will be in good hands! I always wanted to not throw him straight in. It is tough; the player needs to understand what you expect, he may have played a different system where he has come from. Joe played 65 minutes for the development squad on Tuesday and that will get him up to speed, but he is in a good place. The boys can see his quality and he is going to play loads over the next few months now.

"We are feeling committed and the boys are in a good place. I would have been really concerned if we had not been able to get Joe Pigott because we knew that we needed strikers. Having Joe here and seeing the impact he has made and the quality he has got, that has been a massive plus for us.

"We did want to bring one more in and we tried our best to do that. When you see how many transfers happen in the last three or four hours of the transfer window, people may say, 'why on earth do they wait that long?' Ultimately, the answer is that it is 'the domino effect'. Clubs will not let players go. You try to get it done early on, but you are lucky if you do. Players need to come in before they will let you have certain players. You end up going down to the wire with nearly every player who you enquire about. You know it is going down to the last few days a lot of the time. It was unfortunate for us, but we move on and we have a strong group with three very good forwards."

Neal added that Will Nightingale is close to stepping up his recuperation after a knee injury and Dean Parrett is also making progress after a groin operation, but Saturday's match will come too soon for both of them.

"With Will, we are on the verge of trying to get him back now, with straight-line running and stuff," Neal said. "With a bit of luck, we can try to get him involved towards the back end of this month. Dean still needs minutes. He has had almost the equivalent of two summers out, you need that build-up of four to six weeks and to get the games in. He got through 65 minutes the other day (for the development squad). It would be nice to have two or three players who cannot get into the 18 and they are ones who you would normally think should be in it. We will have a look at the younger lads and whether a loan is the right thing for their development. We just have to try and keep everyone fit as much as we can throughout February, so that we can stay strong throughout."

A more in-depth preview of Saturday's game will be on the official website tomorrow.

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