BY SAM SMITH
AFC Wimbledon face two cup ties this week – but boss Neal Ardley will not use them to assess other options in pursuit of a change in their League One fortunes.
The Dons host Stevenage on Tuesday in the EFL Trophy before travelling to non-league Haringey Borough in the FA Cup on Friday.
Both games offer a break from Wimbledon’s dismal league form, compounded by Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Shrewsbury Town which stretched their losing run to seven games.
Ardley claims he has too many injuries and too small a squad to rotate as he searches for a winning formula.
“We lost Will Nightingale last week, Rod McDonald had to pull out late [before the Shrewsbury game]. Terell Thomas did well, by and large, in his place and had a good game,” the 46-year-old said.
“James Hanson coming off was a big blow, that was his calf – at half-time it had tightened up so it seems he has a calf strain. We can’t seem to keep him on the pitch for more than three games at the moment. When you have a striker of his calibre you need him on the pitch, particularly when you’re up against it. We can’t seem to keep him on the pitch but that’s not an excuse.
“We’re not in a position where we can start picking and choosing. We’ve just got to keep going and try to turn it around. It’s happening too often where we don’t take our chances and concede rubbish goals.”
Ardley has been under increased pressure to improve the South Londoners’ fortunes in recent months – despite the strong public backing of chief executive Erik Samuelson last week.
The Dons had a mass exodus in the summer with 12 notable departures and 11 arrivals, but Ardley does not know if he will be in place in January to add to a squad that he clearly feels is still lacking numbers.
“The way it’s going I’m not getting to January. I can’t even think about January,” the former Millwall midfielder said after the defeat to Shrewsbury – which leaves Wimbledon 23rd with 11 points from 17 games.
“You can’t lose the [amount of] games I’ve lost and not be under pressure. I can’t defend my record because the last 14 games haven’t been good enough.”
IMAGE BY KEITH GILLARD