Paul Kalambayi is raring to go for the all-important end to the season after putting his long-term injury behind him.
Sidelined since the away match at Crewe on 23 January, Kalambayi showed a good level of fitness for the development squad today in a match versus Luton, and he can’t wait to be back playing for the first-team.
“It felt good to be out there, especially getting an hour under my belt, and I felt fit,” said Paul, who played a vital part in our Great Escape two years ago. “It’s just about improving my fitness and being there for selection. I snapped my ligament in the game at Crewe, and I was meant to be out for eight weeks, but I came back in seven, and I’ve been through my rehab for about four weeks with Tim (Maynard, Physio). Then I’ve had two weeks with Chris (McConnell, Sports Scientist) just to get my fitness up, strengthening my legs, and finally I was back in training a week and a half ago. I was back training with the first-team and I had to adapt to the style of play. I am just learning what the gaffer wants from us, and I’m just there for when the manager needs me. It’s just about me being available to help the team whenever I can.”
Having been coached by Mark Robinson during his rise through the academy, the 21-year-old defender is fully aware of his strengths and he believes the Dons can push on if League One survival is achieved this season.
“For me personally, we are not where we want to be as a club,” added Paul. “Robbo is that man who wants us to go to the next level. As my manager for the Under-18s, we always had this faith that we were meant to do something big. In the youth team he pushed us in training. We would play against teams and we would be fitter than them and we worked hard on and off the ball. I see that now with the first-team. The style of play is enjoyable to watch and the players enjoy doing it, but we have to make sure that we start picking up some points.
“The belief is there and once it clicks we are one win away from everything changing. Once we get that win we will go on a run. I am pretty positive that we will do it. The next step is getting the points on the board to stay up and once that happens we can push on, which I believe will happen.
“You can see the hunger that Ayoub (Assal) is showing and his willingness to work hard for the team, which is the main thing. It’s always a joy to see an academy product doing well for the first-team.”
Click on the link below to listen to Paul’s full interview with Rob Cornell.