Dons boss encouraged as key players return from injury – but does not expect to welcome back striker

By Anthony Scales

Having struggled with injuries since Christmas, AFC Wimbledon manager Neal Ardley is seeing his players return to action at just the right time, but admits he doesn’t expect to be able to call upon striker Kwesi Appiah this season.

Central defender Darius Charles returned in Saturday’s 2-1 win at home to Oxford, with fellow stopper Will Nightingale on the bench, and Ardley was delighted to have the duo back available.

“It’s great to have them back because we were a bit light in that area for a few weeks, when we had a tough time,” said the Dons boss.

“We missed out on two strikers on deadline days, both January and August, and the biggest blow, obviously, is not having Kwesi for the whole season.

“We really felt him, Lyle [Taylor], Cody [McDonald] and one other would be a really potent force to go with and we haven’t had [Appiah], so they are blows but we can’t moan about it, we’ve got to [at the end of the season] look back at this 46 games with a big sigh of relief and be a League One club, that’s the most important thing.”

Asked how many of the final 10 fixtures Ardley expected to have Appiah at his disposal, the Dons boss replied: “None, I don’t think”.

“If he comes back, I’ll be stunned and I’ll be delighted – but I’m not expecting it. He needed to do the right thing for him, long term, and we’ve done that. I think [for him to return] we’d need to have a real clear run from him and not one backward step, for him to be really available. But you never know. Watch this space.”

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