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Match Previews

Team news: Dons at full strength

Johnnie faces selection headache

28 November 2023

Match Previews

Team news: Dons at full strength

Johnnie faces selection headache

28 November 2023

Johnnie Jackson has a fully fit squad to pick from for tonight’s League Two meeting with Gillingham at MEMS Priestfield Stadium.

Defender Huseyin Biler and forward Omar Bugiel have served their one game suspensions and midfielder Harry Pell has now been involved in the last two training sessions, as he builds up his fitness having returned from injury. 

“It’s been great work from the medical team to get everyone back fit and firing,” said Johnnie after Monday’s workout in New Malden. “We’ve got a lot of players available for selection. When everyone is fit you almost expect at least one or two to be injured at any given time as that’s usually the norm, but fortunately that’s not the case. 

“We want to keep it that way. Obviously with everyone fit, then the more selection headaches it gives me! Leaving people out is the difficult part of the job and never nice, but I think players understand and it’s about nailing down that position when you get the opportunity. There will be opportunities though for everyone during this busy period - that’s for certain.” 

You can hear everything Johnnie had to say and read a summary of the key points below.

The away form has been fantastic this season and you’ve addressed the home form, so is it about developing a consistency now? 

Yes, that’s it - just trying to find a real consistency about what we’re doing. We know that we can change it up if we need to. We know that we can change personnel and it shouldn’t have much impact on what we’re trying to do. 

We’re going to need all of that - especially looking at December with the number of games that we’re going to play now. What with the Trophy and the FA Cup as well - the games are going to be coming thick and fast. 

If we continue with that performance level and that consistency, as we’ve done for large periods of the season, then I think we’ll continue to pick up points and that’s what we need to aim for. 

Skivo and Omar 16.9.JPG

Stephen Clemence is the Head Coach there, I guess you two go back as far as your days together as players at Tottenham? 

I know him well; he was a bit older than me at Spurs. He was someone I looked up to as a left-footed midfield player. We’ve kept in touch down the years - so it’ll be great to see him and wish him well for the future, but not on Tuesday night when we’ll be looking to put one over on him! 

Huseyin Biler and Omar Bugiel come back into contention? 

They’re back available. There are lots of selection headaches and lots of people proving a point that they should be in the team. 

It’ll be a difficult eleven to pick, however we go about it. There will be some who are left disappointed, but that’s why we built this squad. At the moment, everyone is fit and there are no suspensions, so it’s going to be a difficult eighteen to pick!  

Harry Pell is back in full training now? 

Yes, he’s back, but he’s only had a couple of sessions. He joined back up with the group on Friday and then on Monday, so he’s still not had a big bulk of training. We need to get him back to where his fitness is firing, having missed a few weeks now, but it’s great to have him back out there with the boys. 

IMG_6142 group 16.9.JPG

Tuesday night’s game is the nineteenth for us and that means afterwards things change in terms of suspensions - if certain players don’t pick up any further yellow cards.

We’ve got a few players on the brink, but I always say to them that you have to block, run and tackle - that’s what we demand from them. 

If players pick up cards from doing that - we can live with it. I need them to play their games and not have that on their minds. What we want to avoid are the silly ones, for dissent, kicking the ball away or not retreating for a free kick. 

We pride ourselves on the way that we go about our business. I don’t want anyone to hold back on their game, but hopefully we get through this one and then it goes from five yellow cards up to ten and we don’t have to think so much about suspensions again for a while.

Main photo: Ian Stephen (Pro Sports Images).

You can purchase a video match pass and there's full commentary of the game tonight with our Radio WDON team from iFollow Dons. 

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