By Rob Cornell
Young left-back Tom Scott has received a boost from Neal Ardley ahead of this weekend’s trip to Bradford City.
AFC Wimbledon Academy’s Player of the Year for last season (pictured receiving his award from Jeremy Sauer and Mark Robinson) has been ruled out of action for most of this campaign with a stress fracture of his back. As the defender looks to resume playing again, Tom will travel to West Yorkshire with the Dons to gain experience of being around the first team squad for an away fixture.
“It’s a bit of experience for Tom,” explained assistant manager Neil Cox. “He’s been missing from the Academy with his back and the gaffer has been really pushing to get the young boys to travel, just to see how the first team handle an away fixture. It’ll be really good for him to see how they deal with things on the road.”
Neil Cox talks about Tom Scott gaining first team experience by travelling with the Dons in a clip below, via a link to our official YouTube channel.
Tom made his breakthrough last season. Having performed well for Mark Robinson’s under-18s side, he progressed to being a part of Alan Reeves' development squad that won the South East and West regional title in the Central League.
The youngster was set to take the captain’s arm band for the young Dons FA Youth Cup campaign, but frustratingly he had to watch on from the stand at Home Park as they went out to Plymouth Argyle.
"After a great first season in the under-18s, Tom has had a rough few months on the sidelines through a long-term back injury," said Academy Manager Jeremy Sauer.
"He's through the worst of it and even back kicking a ball again now - credit to the medical team for this, but due to the nature of his injury we can't rush him back.
"We've put his scholarship on hold while he's not playing, which means he'll get the time spent injured back again and is under no pressure to begin playing competitively too quickly.
"His trip with the first team was agreed at our technical board meeting before Christmas, as a means of keeping him stimulated and providing him with varied learning opportunities. I'm sure he'll love it!"
Mark Robinson, Academy Head of Football, said: "It's great that Tom is travelling with the first team. He has been devastated to miss most of the season.
"He has approached his rehabilitation with a professional attitude and he has been looked after brilliantly by our Sports Science and Medicine Manager Jenna Richards.
"We are confident he will return ready for next season in great shape. Like all the boys in the academy, Tom gets an education on how to look after yourself and take ownership of your lifestyle.
"It will be great for Tom to build on this and see what is needed at first team level in preparation for a matchday."
“He’s done really well and works really hard," added Neil. "It’s just a shame with these back problems he’s been having. Hopefully he’ll be back fit soon.
“Dressing rooms away from home are not easy, so it’s important they learn about the first team environment. He can come into the meetings that the staff have as well and he’ll be involved in them, just to know what we expect from people.
“He can sit there and have a look and say – ‘this is what I want to be a part of’. He has to work a little bit extra, but the harder they work, the easier it gets.”
The full update from the training ground with assistant manager Neil Cox, ahead of Saturday’s League One match at Bradford City, is available to subscribers of our iFollow Dons channel.