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Robbo’s squad update ahead of Charlton challenge

Team news from our Head Coach

19 March 2021

Mark Robinson reported that he will have to do without both Darnell Johnson and Callum Reilly for the home match versus Charlton Athletic on Saturday.

Darnell and Callum suffered ankle injuries in the midweek draw against Wigan and they will miss out on the visit of the Addicks. Our Head Coach is also waiting to hear more news on goalkeeper Sam Walker’s knee injury.

“Darnell is injured, so he is out, and Callum is out as well,” said Robbo. “It’s not the news you want to hear and I’m really disappointed for those two lads because they had a big impact. They both have ankle injuries and I’m waiting to hear more news to find out how bad they are. Callum had been doing really well and DJ had been doing fantastic. We are without those two tomorrow, but this is what we are all about, we are all in it together, and that’s what Wimbledon is about.

“We are still waiting to hear how long that Sam is going to be out. He has gone back to Reading and had scans and stuff, but we are awaiting final news on that in terms of how long he is going to be out.”

Positive news for the Dons is that Jaakko Oksanen decided to stay and help the Dons fight for League One survival, rather than go away with Finland Under-21s.

“There are lots of changes in people’s mindsets and Jaakko called me and said, ‘Robbo, I would rather not go away on international duty and if you need me I would like to be here for the team’. That’s fantastic, and he didn’t know about Callum’s injury when he called me. It’s great news and it’s what you want to hear. I wouldn’t have denied the lad that if he wanted to go, but he said he would rather be here, fighting for the team, and fighting for his place. That was a real positive moment for the whole squad.”

Forward Corie Andrews, who signed for us from Kingstonian at the end of January, has taken a major step forward after injury, according to Robbo.

“Corie trained today. He had been on limited training, working hard with Chris (McConnell) to get him fit and sharp. It was his first proper session back today and he did well. He looked sharp, so hopefully in a week or two, probably two, he could be another option for us.”

The Dons head into Saturday’s match against a Charlton side that will be playing their first match under the management of Nigel Adkins, who was appointed in midweek. Wimbledon have drawn four out of the last five games and Robbo is eager to start turning those promising displays into victories.

“We scored late equalisers at Blackpool and Shrewsbury, late winners against Wigan and Gillingham, and that shows that the lads have got character, and they are building character. More importantly, we’ve come back from losing positions on three occasions, and I don’t think we had done that all season. It shows they care, and so they should. It shows they are in it together, but we’ve drawn four out of our last five now, so we’ve got to turn those draws into wins and that’s where our focus is.

“The focus in the meetings is on where we are coming up short. We have showed them what we are doing well – and we’ve had a solid base – so we have to keep that, but how are we going to add that next layer and turn draws into wins? How are we going to create more clear-cut chances? We need to create a bit more chaos in the area so that the ball drops for us because a lot of goals are scored in second phases in this league. That’s where our focus has been. We’ve got some analysis which helps with that, you can see where we are strong and where we are not so strong. We’ve looked at the top four teams in the league and we are strong in a lot of stuff that we are doing off the ball now, but it’s looking at where they are better than us. It’s about trying to get that message across to the players.

“I would like to think the fans have seen that the players are doing absolutely everything. It’s just about us being together. I just want the fans to stick with us, I know they are not there in noise, but obviously the players will hear and see things with their responses to performances, so hopefully they are seeing that we are doing absolutely everything to get out of this. Not only to get out of this, but to build something special for the future.”

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