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Ayoub trains with the Young Lions

Academy produced Wimbledon midfielder answers England call

23 March 2022

Ayoub Assal has been training at St George’s Park this week, with a view to joining the England Under-20 squad for their forthcoming games against Poland and Germany.

Head Coach Mark Robinson has given his reaction to the call-up of attacking midfielder Ayoub, who has previously attended a training camp for Morocco.

“Ayoub has been called up by England and he’s training with them at the moment,” said Robbo. “Personally, he’s someone I’ve worked with for a long, long time and these are the things that are huge for us.

“We’re all very proud. It wasn’t so long ago that I couldn’t get him a loan in the Conference South because I got told he was too small! Now that he’s played multiple games for our first team, he’s got a call up for our country.

“It’s incredible. Bayzo and the Academy have produced goalkeepers, but to have our first outfield player get called up for England is a massive thing for the football club and shows how far we’ve come in a short period of time. To be fair, we had another lad who was on the shortlist as well who hasn’t been called up – so it’s a really big thing for the club.” 

If Ayoub does fully join-up with the Young Lions travelling party, and with three other players due to be away on international duty, Robbo has dispelled any fears of Saturday’s home game against Cambridge United being postponed.

“We looked at it and it was a tough decision, because we need to win and we need to get points,” said Robbo. “Fundamentally, if we'd cancelled the game that then leaves us with a really heavy fixture list, because Charlton already cancelled on us.

“We felt to cancel it would leave us with a ridiculous number of games in so many days. We felt to play it is the better option and to work hard this week, so that we can get the three points.”

With no midweek game, Robbo also cleared up the absence of left-back Lee Brown from the starting line-up and bench at Cheltenham on Saturday, in his latest round-up from the training ground.

“Lee was in the squad,” said Robbo. “He turned up Saturday, but he’d had a family health issue. I could see that mentally he wasn’t in a good place. We had a long chat, and I could see that he still wanted to travel, but we had to come to a decision together. He had a rough few days and I could see that he wasn’t where he needed to be.

“He’s a great professional. You need to make sure players are in the right frame of mind and he wasn’t, but he’s back training now. He gets the support that he needs because that’s the culture we’ve got here, and he looks in a better frame of mind.”

You can see the full interview with our Head Coach Mark Robinson below, via the video link to our official YouTube channel.


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