BY RICHARD CAWLEY
AFC Wimbledon have offered a new contract to Will Nightingale – with the League One club also confirming that Andy Barcham, Deji Oshilaja, Tom Soares and Joe McDonnell have been released.
Centre-back Nightingale is out of contract but Dons boss Wally Downes wants him to stay.
Downes told the club’s website: “We’ve made an offer to keep Will at the club as he played a massive part in keeping us up in the last few months of the season.
“I’ve given Will a chance to play more and I think he has improved. Hopefully, he will stay with us and improve again.”
Young midfielder Alfie Egan has joined a clutch of more season pros in leaving Wimbledon.
Downes said: “It’s been a heart-wrenching part of my job to make these decisions.
“You don’t like leaving players out when they’ve worked hard in training all week, but you have to. Sometimes as a manager you don’t give players enough credit and you think it’s a difficult conversation, but as long as you’ve got your reasons and you can justify it with the results, they understand football.
“They are prepared to listen to reasons and get on with their jobs, but some players aren’t and that’s when you have a problem. The players here, to a man, when I’ve explained my reasons for leaving them out, have been superb. It’s the squad that’s got us over the line, not the team, and the players out there every week.
“I’ve had to make some difficult decisions about players that won’t be with us next season. Tom Soares will be leaving us. He has been fabulous as a senior professional. I’ve used him when I thought I could and he did great for me when he came on. He’s been an inspiration to the younger players in training every day and when playing in the reserve games. I’ve highlighted it to the young players that if they want to have long careers in the game, then they don’t need to look any further than Tom Soares.
“I’ve had to have a conversation with Andy Barcham and he’s pre-empted it because he realised he wasn’t getting any chances. He made the conversation easy for me. He has been at AFC Wimbledon for a long time and he’s contributed so much to the club.
“Barchy told me that he understood the decision. He wished us all the best. He got me the first goal after I was appointed. If we had lost that home game we would have gone down and my tenure would have been different, so I will be eternally grateful for that. I will always remember it.
“The way he has been around the place every day has been fantastic as well. They are two senior pros that are leaving and in an ideal world I would have kept them, but they need to go out and play, they know that. I need to bring players in that are going to be a bit closer to the first-team.
“Deji was in a difficult position with the offers that came in for him in the two transfer windows, but he did his best to get himself fit after he was injured. I wish him well in the future.”
TOP IMAGE BY KEITH GILLARD