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Squad news from Neal ahead of Pompey at home

Update from our manager for iFollow

11 October 2018

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Neal Ardley reported that the Dons are close to having a full squad to choose from with James Hanson and Terell Thomas having returned to full training.

Hanson has missed the last two weeks due to a hamstring injury, but he could be back in contention for the match against League One leaders Portsmouth on Saturday. Thomas has returned from a longer lay-off, but he has taken a real positive step in the right direction this week after shaking off a knee injury.

Speaking during his Thursday update for iFollow, Neal said: "Terell Thomas and James Hanson are back training, so we are nearly on full tilt with everything. We are really happy with where we are with the squad. There is a difference between 'fit' and 'match-fit', but certainly they are out there on the training field. For the first time in a while even Alan Reeves has got some of his Under-23s back and we've been able to split the groups. Reevesy has had a good group to train and I've had a good group to train, so in that respect it's all been great."

Yesterday marked six years since Neal Ardley was appointed as AFC Wimbledon manager and he feels proud to have been at the helm for so long.

"I feel privileged, I really do," said Neal. "The club deserve a huge amount of credit for the fact that I've been in the job six years, the fact that Terry Brown was in the job for a long time and Dave Anderson before him. They (the club) try hard to make the right decision in the first place and they don't get too high or too low and emotional when things aren't going our way. That's the hard part of football, we all feel desperate to win games of football and when it doesn't happen there is a natural emotional response that can be negative.

"When you look at what we have achieved: staying in the league, the wonderful time at Wembley, Liverpool and West Ham at home, plus Spurs at Wembley. They are good moments and we've also had some tough times, including the run we've been on recently, where we can't seem to buy a win or a goal etc. Tough people get through tough times and that's what hopefully myself, the players, and all Wimbledon fans are."

Neal believes that the fans can play a big part in helping the Dons to provide a stern test to Kenny Jacket's league leaders on Saturday.

"We're at home against top of the league and so far at home we've only had the one win," added Neal. "We're disappointed with that as we feel we've deserved more. We now have to turn that deserving into reality and my job is to keep working at it, take the pressure off the boys, and put the pressure on my shoulders, not theirs. We want to try to get them to play with freedom and hopefully the fans can help. I know that the results haven't been great and they've not had too much to sing about at 5 pm on a Saturday, but if they can get behind the boys and give them everything, play their part, then hopefully together we can get where we need to go."

The full interview with Neal is available to watch by clicking on the link to our iFollow channel above.

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