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Squad update from the manager

Difficult decisions made by Wally Downes

10 May 2019

In his end of season update, Wally Downes has praised the contributions of players that helped to maintain AFC Wimbledon's League One status.

After guiding The Dons to a remarkable Great Escape, Wally aims to build on that achievement by improving Wimbledon’s league position in 2019/20. The manager has today started that process by announcing players that he aims to keep, those leaving the club, squad members under contract, and players offered new deals.

Below is an update on players in last season’s squad, plus quotes from our manager:

Players leaving the club

  • Deji Oshilaja
  • Andy Barcham
  • Tom Soares
  • Joe McDonnell
  • Alfie Egan
  • Osaze Urhoghide
  • James O’Halloran
  • Kane Crichlow

Speaking about players leaving the club, Wally said: “It’s been a heart-wrenching part of my job to make these decisions. You don’t like leaving players out when they’ve worked hard in training all week, but you have to. Sometimes as a manager you don’t give players enough credit and you think it’s a difficult conversation, but as long as you’ve got your reasons and you can justify it with the results, they understand football. They are prepared to listen to reasons and get on with their jobs, but some players aren’t and that’s when you have a problem. The players here, to a man, when I’ve explained my reasons for leaving them out, have been superb. It’s the squad that’s got us over the line, not the team, and the players out there every week.

“I’ve had to make some difficult decisions about players that won’t be with us next season. Tom Soares will be leaving us. He has been fabulous as a senior professional. I’ve used him when I thought I could and he did great for me when he came on. He’s been an inspiration to the younger players in training every day and when playing in the reserve games. I’ve highlighted it to the young players that if they want to have long careers in the game, then they don’t need to look any further than Tom Soares.

“I’ve had to have a conversation with Andy Barcham and he’s pre-empted it because he realised he wasn’t getting any chances. He made the conversation easy for me. He has been at AFC Wimbledon for a long time and he’s contributed so much to the club. Barchy told me that he understood the decision. He wished us all the best. He got me the first goal after I was appointed. If we had lost that home game we would have gone down and my tenure would have been different, so I will be eternally grateful for that. I will always remember it. The way he has been around the place every day has been fantastic as well. They are two senior pros that are leaving and in an ideal world I would have kept them, but they need to go out and play, they know that. I need to bring players in that are going to be a bit closer to the first-team.”

Andy Barcham played a key role in AFC Wimbledon’s promotion to League One in 2015/16, his first season at the club. A favourite with supporters for his energetic displays on the left flank, Andy made 161 appearances for The Dons, scoring 17 goals.

Tom Soares joined Wimbledon in January 2017 and he made 79 appearances, scoring two goals.

Deji Oshilaja made 104 appearances for AFC Wimbledon during two spells at the club, scoring four goals. The defender won the Young Player of the Year award in his loan spell here and earned the Player of the Year honour in 2017/18, but Deji has now left the club.

Wally said: “Deji was in a difficult position with the offers that came in for him in the two transfer windows, but he did his best to get himself fit after he was injured. I wish him well in the future.”

Goalkeeper Joe McDonnell joined AFC Wimbledon back in 2014, making his league debut at Shrewsbury back in February 2015 after an injury to James Shea. Joe made 32 appearances in all competitions for Wimbledon and he impressed everyone at the club with his professionalism when he wasn't playing. 

Players under contract

  • Terell Thomas
  • Scott Wagstaff
  • Anthony Hartigan
  • Kwesi Appiah
  • Mitch Pinnock
  • Dylan Connolly
  • James Hanson
  • Toby Sibbick
  • Paul Kalambayi
  • Tommy Wood
  • Nik Tzanev
  • Rod McDonald
  • Anthony Wordsworth
  • Shane McLoughlin
  • Joe Pigott
  • Ossama Ashley
  • Jack Rudoni

Players offered new contracts

  • Will Nightingale
  • Kyron Stabana

Wally is hopeful about Will committing his future to AFC Wimbledon.

The manager said: “We’ve made an offer to keep Will at the club as he played a massive part in keeping us up in the last few months of the season. I’ve given Will a chance to play more and I think he has improved. Hopefully, he will stay with us and improve again.”

Players leaving Wimbledon to go back to their parent clubs

  • Aaron Ramsdale
  • Steve Seddon
  • Tennai Watson
  • Michael Folivi
  • Jake Jervis
  • Tyler Garratt

Wally was quick to salute the contributions of loan players to Wimbledon’s League One survival.

“The three boys I brought in – Ramsdale, Seddon and Folivi – all played massive parts. Aaron helped to get us numerous points. Steve got us the vital goal in injury-time at Luton and what he was doing in their six-yard box at that time I don’t know! Michael also popped up with a couple of goals and played really well when he was called upon. Those players came in and they’ve enhanced their careers with us, but they also enhanced our season. We gave them a little ride that they will never forget. We wish them well and we will continually follow their careers for what they’ve done here.”

Egli Kaja, who has struggled with injuries since returning from a loan spell at Scottish Premiership side Livingston, will be invited back for pre-season training after his contract expired.

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

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