The message from Rob Tuvey was loud and clear - the squad is determined to make an impact wherever they go this season.
Though Rob shared the excitement of everyone connected with the club at the mouthwatering prospect of taking on Arsenal, he said that the squad are fully focused on making their mark at grounds all around the country, starting with Ipswich.
This week has really captured the imagination with a last-gasp win at Northampton followed up by being paired with the Gunners in the Carabao Cup draw – and there’s a trip to Portman Road coming up on Saturday.
Asked about last night’s draw, boyhood Dons fan Rob said: “There’s real excitement for everyone in the building and we can’t wait for it to come around, but we have got really important games coming up, and our focus is purely on Saturday at the moment. When it comes around we will be excited and really looking forward to it.
“I went to watch Wimbledon play Arsenal back in the day, and I have fond memories of matches against them. I’m sure that it’s a game our younger generation will be really excited about, but the older generation can also lean on the experiences they had against Arsenal in the past as well.
“Wherever we go, whether it’s against teams in our own division or in cup competitions, I think it’s really important that we put our mark on these matches. That’s what we will be doing at Ipswich as well.”
During an extensive interview with Rob Cornell, our Assistant Manager reported no fresh injury concerns ahead of the trip to Suffolk. He was quick to praise physio Tim Maynard, Sports Scientist Chris McConnell, and the rest of our medical team for keeping the squad fully fit at an important stage of the season.
“It’s the same again, we only have Jack Madelin and Luke Jenkins out, and they are getting closer, which has been good to see," added Rob. "Apart from those two, we have a fully fit squad, and we are ready to go.
“It’s not just Tim and Chris because Katy (Bignell) and Matt (Flynn) have also played a part behind the scenes, and so too has Ben Ryan. He has added value in that department as well. He has allowed us to get into his contacts a little bit and work on different things. We’ve also got Vicky (Newbold) working on nutrition and that’s been really good too. You can really see a multi-discipline approach that has played a massive part in ensuring that we have a fully fit squad.”
Of course, the Dons could come up against Joe Pigott for the first time since he left us in the summer. During three-and-a-half years with the Dons, ‘Pigs’ made a vital contribution towards retaining our League One status – and there’s massive respect from our management team for him.
“I think he’s definitely up there (with Wimbledon’s best strikers) if you look at the service he gave to the club, both on and off the pitch. He was a massive part of our dressing room last year and hopefully the Wimbledon fans will give him a great reception on Saturday, but we want to be celebrating three points with them afterwards. Joe was fantastic for us and someone who we’ve all kept in contact with. We wish him well for the future.”
Speaking about the approach to Saturday’s game and the task of facing an Ipswich side that has changed significantly since our two matches against them in April, Rob added: “This season myself and Robbo have had longer with the group to try to implement new ideas that Joe has potentially not seen, but ultimately we will go there with a gameplan and I think the nice thing that people will have seen is that we’ve got flexibility in our side – for personnel and formations. Whatever we choose to go with on the day, we’ve got the opportunity to change formations and players. That’s going to be a strength for us moving forward.
“They are definitely a different side because there was a lot of recruitment in the summer, but you are always know that Ipswich will be a tough test. When you play against Paul’s teams you know that they are going to play a good brand of football and attacking style of football as well.
"They’ve definitely been unfortunate in a few games this season as they’ve created a lot of chances. We know the threats that they pose, but in every game we’ve played so far we have carried a good threat. We haven’t been out of any of the games so far and we want to go there and put our mark on it. We want to take the game to them in the best way we can. It is about 80 per cent us and 20 per cent them. We’ve looked at them, gone through that 20 per cent, and hopefully we can put our mark down on the day.”