Neal Ardley is hopeful that Scott Wagstaff will be ready to make a return at Blackpool on Saturday with the midfielder having made good progress after a hamstring injury.
Scott (pictured scoring against Oxford) missed the home match against Portsmouth, but he could be back in the reckoning. However, Andy Barcham (calf) is doubtful, Anthony Wordsworth (Achilles) will miss out, and Neal will also check on Joe Pigott and Tyler Garratt.
“We are hopeful that ‘Waggy’ will be back,” said Neal. “Anthony Wordsworth is a ‘no’, Andy Barcham is a doubt. We’ve got one or two other doubts, including Tyler Garratt as well. Joe Pigott was ill at the back end of last week, I’ve since found out, but he was obviously sick at half-time. We will have to take a look at him because he hasn’t eaten much in the early part of the week. Whether he is going to be ready or not is debatable, so we will make that decision tomorrow and get to work on the team before we set off.”
Neal drew encouragement from watching first-teamers including James Hanson stake a claim for more game-time in Tuesday’s Central League match against Southend. However, Neal added that he’s spent plenty of time this week working hard to ensure that there is no repeat of the first-half display against Portsmouth.
“It has been a tough week after Saturday,” said Neal. “When you are not winning games of football it can hang over you, probably more so for us than even the fans because it’s our job to correct it, certainly for me. Obviously, the performances on Tuesday were good, there is encouragement there, and we got minutes into players.
“I’ve probably done more coaching in the last week than ever before, because we’ve needed it. We are trying to tweak some stuff to be able to get results. The boys have taken that on board, they’ve been grilled hard. It’s been a tough week, but a positive week? Perhaps, but I’ll tell you that at 5 pm on Saturday.
“It’s been a bit stop-start for ‘Hans’ with niggles and injuries, he will admit that, but I know what a good player he is and I hope we can have that James Hanson now, keep him on the pitch and doing what he’s been doing for years before. That is terrorising defences.
“Players came off the bench on Saturday and showed a bit of what we want. Players played on Tuesday and showed some of that, for sure. I’ve done all I can this week to make sure that everything is clear: what we expect and what I expect. The first-half on Saturday scars you. In my half-time team-talk I said: ‘it’s everything a Wimbledon performance shouldn’t be for these fans’. I actually used our fans in the half-time team talk. The second-half was more what they expect and we’ve got to find a way to carry that on and be that from now on in. Hopefully results will come on the back of it.”
The full interview with Neal is available to watch on our iFollow channel by clicking on the link above.