By Anthony Scales
January arrival Joe Pigott surprised Wimbledon manager Neal Ardley when he rose from his midweek sickbed for the duration of the second half of Saturday’s crucial 2-1 win over Oxford, his muscular presence allowing the hosts to go more direct and tighten up at the back.
“We weren’t even sure he’d have 45 minutes in him because he was quite ill,” said Ardley afterwards. “He had the weekend off and then, Monday and Tuesday he was quite ill and we had to send him home. He didn’t train until Thursday, we thought he might have 25 minutes in him, we threw him on for 45 and he’s done great.”
Pigott was obviously feeling the effects of his illness in a muted post-match interview and said: “Now, afterwards, I’m not feeling too great. I’ve had a virus and been feeling pretty lethargic and not very well at all, I’m still not really 100 per cent but when I was called upon, I had to put in a shift.
“I’ve now got another week to go so hopefully I can get some rest and then get a lot of training under my belt.”
The former Charlton forward said he is enjoying life with the Dons and is confident there is enough quality in the squad to stay up, with his experience of beating the drop from the Championship with the Addicks a useful experience.
“[Wimbledon] had a decent season last year, we’ve got bundles of experience and we shouldn’t really be in the position we’re in but you can’t take [League One status] for granted and we’ve got to kick on for the final 10 games,” said Pigott.
“I’ve been in relegation battles before, at Charlton, and that was quite comfortable in the end, I think we stayed up with two games to go. But you can’t just say [we’ll stay up], you have to put it into action and I think we’ll do that in the last 10 games.”
With a trip to third-from-bottom Rochdale on Saturday, and a game against his former employers during the run-in, Pigott insisted the identity of the Dons’ final 10 opponents is irrelevant – it’s just about getting points on the board.
“I don’t think the emphasis is all on one game,” said the targetman, ahead of Saturday’s relegation six-pointer. “It’s really on all the 10 that we’ve got left. Every game is as important as the next, regardless of opponent. If we get the points that we need, I don’t see what the problem is. [Our opponents’ league position] makes no difference to me.”
And Pigott was similarly dismissive of the personal significance of facing Charlton in a game rearranged after it fell victim to the recent cold snap.
“It’s a game we look forward to,” he added. “There’s a couple of people [at Charlton] I’ve known for years but it’s just another game for me really, and hopefully one we can win. There’s five or six players [there] I’ve played with. I was a young player that came through the club and played 20-odd games. But I’ll just be looking forward to it like any other game.”