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Neal’s end of season squad update

Manager praises contribution of long-serving quartet

8 May 2018

Neal Ardley has provided an update on the situation of every player in last season's squad as he aims to take AFC Wimbledon forward in 2018/19.

Following a strong finish to the campaign that ensured League One football for another season, the manager is already putting together plans to improve the squad.

Below is an update from Neal on players departing the club, squad members under contract, and those offered new contracts.

Players leaving the club:

Paul Robinson

Barry Fuller

George Francomb

Callum Kennedy

Lloyd Sam

Richard Pingling

Levi Shango

Seth Owens

Jayden Antwi

Barry Fuller, Paul Robinson, George Francomb, and Callum Kennedy all played key roles during AFC Wimbledon's promotion-winning season in 2015/16.

Barry Fuller made 236 appearances for AFC Wimbledon with his committed displays making him a favourite with supporters. Barry took over the reins as captain after the departure of Alan Bennett and he led by example with his all-action displays helping Wimbledon to promotion glory two years ago.

Neal said: "Barry is a legend for this club. The captain for the last few years, he lifted the trophy in our promotion season and epitomised everything about our club with his aggressive never-say-die attitude. He has been a brilliant captain for me and this club and like with the others, I am extremely sad to see him and his lovely family move on."

Promotion at Wembley provided the ultimate high for Paul Robinson at the end of his first season at AFC Wimbledon and it was also a campaign when he was awarded the club's Player of the Year accolade.

Neal said: "Paul is a brilliant man with incredible leadership qualities. He was Man of the Match in our greatest hour during my managerial reign at Wembley and deservedly won the Player of the Year award. We wish Paul all the very best for the remainder of his football career, before he becomes a very good coach."

During two spells with AFC Wimbledon, George Francomb played in all almost every outfield position for the club, giving his all for the team whenever he was called upon. George made 221 appearances in total for the Dons after initially joining Wimbledon on loan back in 2012 when Terry Brown was still manager.

Neal said: "George has been invaluable to me as a manager ever since I arrived at the club. He has played in every position and has been an unsung hero who doesn't get the credit he deserves. He has matured into an excellent right back, which is now his best position, and he will become a very good player for his new club."

Callum Kennedy returned to the club last summer after his previous spell here ended with Wembley glory, the popular left-back having set-up Lyle Taylor for the all-important opener against Plymouth.

Neal said: "Callum was one of the favourites among the squad and he is an unbelievably great guy. He needs to play regularly now as he is in his prime, so that he can become a first choice left-back at a club. I wish him all the best again and we will stay in touch with him I am sure."

Players leaving Wimbledon to go back to loan clubs:

George Long (Sheffield United)

Harry Forrester (Rangers)

Jimmy Abdou (Millwall)

All three loan players made vital contributions during 2017/18, helping in different ways to keep AFC Wimbledon in League One.

Neal said: "George has been an amazing goalkeeper this season and our extensive work to bring him here paid off. He rightly became a favourite with the fans and we wish him the very best of luck back at Sheffield United.

"Harry is a wonderfully gifted player who added real flair to the team and he also returns to his parent club.

"Jimmy is a real team player who goes about his job quietly and we hope his testimonial works out brilliantly for him, he deserves it."

Players under contract:

Paul Kalambayi

Toby Sibbick

Alfie Egan

Anthony Hartigan

Tom Soares

Liam Trotter

Andy Barcham

Kwesi Appiah

Joe Pigott

Cody McDonald

Will Nightingale

Deji Oshilaja

Players offered new contracts:

Darius Charles

Jon Meades

Dean Parrett

Nik Tzanev

Joe McDonnell

Lyle Taylor

Egli Kaja

In addition, Neset Bellikli will return for pre-season after missing the last campaign through injury and he will aim to prove his fitness to the club.

All at AFC Wimbledon thank those players leaving for their contributions to the club and we wish them every success in their future careers.

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