BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Neal Ardley reckons there is only one box which Scott Wagstaff did not tick in AFC Wimbledon’s transfer requirements – his age.
The former Charlton winger, 28, became the Dons’ fifth signing of the summer.
Wagstaff played 142 times for the Addicks before joining Bristol City in 2013. He was released by Gillingham in May.
“Scott Wagstaff fitted our profile,” said Wimbledon boss Ardley. “We profiled what we wanted this season and tried to make sure we didn’t put a team together that didn’t represent what we started out trying to put together.
“If there is one area Scott didn’t fit our profile, it is his age. We are trying to reduce the average age across the squad, bring some younger and hungrier players in from non-league and lower down.
“Scott is 28 and in his prime. The stats he produces physically, along with other things, were everything we were looking for. If he had been 22 or 23 he would have been the perfect signing.
“I met Scott probably five or six weeks ago. Myself, Simon [Bassey] and Scott had an initial discussion. It has just taken a while [to get done].”
Wagstaff is right-footed and has played in a number of roles – but Ardley sees him largely being used down the flanks.
“For me he is an all-action wide player but over the course of the last two or three years he has probably ended up doing a bit more defending than suits him. If you look, his goals and assists in the last season or two has probably suffered because of it.
“If I go back to his good times at Bristol City and Charlton then I remember him scoring 10 or 11 goals in a season, we need to try and get him back to those levels. His fitness and athleticism allow him to be an all-action wide player.
“He can carry the ball, has bundles of energy and is a good crosser. He is not a [Andy] Barcham, where he can leave people for dead twice over. But we’ll maybe still be adding one of those as well.
“I want to get his numbers back up. With Scott being 28, maybe it is a good thing because we have got a
21-year-old right-back in Tennai Watson and a 19-year-old right-back in Toby Sibbick. It might not be a bad thing having a bit of know-how near or alongside them.”
Reading’s Watson has signed on a season-long loan. It is his first move out of the Berkshire club.
“It was an extremely tough decision to let two fantastic servants in Barry Fuller and George Francomb go,” said Ardley.
“We had one eye on Toby, hoping he came back to the next level – which you can’t always guarantee with young lads.
“We had a number one target at right-back, both permanent and on loan. The loan was
Tannei. He really impressed myself and Neil Cox [assistant manager] when we watched him. Our scouts saw him several times.
“Last season he was due to have a hamstring operation and his appendix burst, so he had to do a lot of rehabilitating. He got his fitness levels back where they were by the end of the season and played a lot for Reading’s under-23s in the last four months.
“We’d have liked a permanent deal but the loan was the one we
really knew we could get over the line. We know Reading like him a lot. He’ll want to get a season of games under his belt.”
Wimbledon will look for a third straight friendly victory when they host QPR tomorrow (3pm).
Mitch Pinnock, Deji Oshilaja and Jon Meades were on target in a 3-1 win at Woking on Tuesday.