Glyn Hodges said that his young talents will be raring to go once again when League One high flyers Oxford United visit the Cherry Red Records Stadium on Sunday (3.00 pm kick-off).
Wimbledon’s starting 11 at Bristol Rovers on Boxing Day included six players aged 21 or under and they passed the test with flying colours.
Eighteen-year-old Jack Rudoni was one of those and 20-year-old Nesta Guinness-Walker showed his qualities on the left side after being handed another chance back in the team.
The Dons will once again be without several key players for the match against Oxford, but Glyn has backed his youngsters to shine.
Asked whether players currently out were close to being available again, Glyn said: “They are not far away. It’s a bit too soon for them, but we took the same squad to Bristol Rovers and that’s a hard place to go and win. We will persevere and the boys have got a chance. They will keep the shirts, so we will see how we go.
“We are trying to play a certain way in which everyone will know what we are trying to do. We’ve had to dip into using the youngsters maybe a bit earlier than we would have liked, but they all understand and they are quite aware of what we want to do and how we go about things. That’s what is pleasing, they have picked it up.
“We got players to come back in and it’s going to be good competition for places. We’ve mentioned ‘Rudi’ before and said it’s a bit early for him – I did not expect him to be at this level this early – but it’s great and he will get his opportunity, so hopefully he can grasp it with both hands. He is another one who has stepped up and shown a real hunger. He’s a left footed midfielder with good talent, he’s great to work with, and he gives his all. ‘Rudi’ has all the tools to do really well.”
Scott Wagstaff and Anthony Wordsworth (both calf injuries) and Kwesi Appiah (ankle) are expected to return to full training within the next couple of weeks. Michael Folivi and Adam Roscrow are expected to be back soon, but Saturday will come too soon for their returns, but Will Nightingale (hip) and Paul Kalambayi (ruptured ankle ligament) are out long-term.
Speaking about the challenge facing Wimbledon against Oxford, Glyn added: “I think it’s a very good Oxford team. We know what to expect as we’ve been through it today with the boys. Oxford are in a rich vein of form so we are going to be at our best. Hopefully, we will have recovered as it’s only been a couple of days since the last game, but we will be going in there confident because of the win we had at Bristol Rovers. We are looking forward to the challenge and we are ready.
“You respect everybody in this league, but different teams throw up different challenges with their ways of playing. We were comfortable on Thursday once we came to terms with their approach. It’s a completely different challenge coming up: they have a lot of good players and they went toe-to-toe with Man City recently in the cup. It’s great and hopefully it’s a full house with the fans getting behind us.”