Exclusive: Dons captain rejects talk of dressing room disharmony

BY RICHARD CAWLEY
richard@slpmedia.co.uk

Deji Oshilaja has rubbished claims that there is unrest in the AFC Wimbledon camp – claiming it is an easy slight to aim because of their League One struggles.

The Dons have lost six of their last seven matches in all competitions. Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat to Portsmouth means Neal Ardley’s side have pocketed just three points from a possible 15.

Wimbledon captain Oshilaja, 25, said: “The mood in the camp is totally fine. It is easy for people on the outside to say it isn’t, but it is always mentioned when results are not going your way.

“We have played well in some games and not got results – that isn’t down to the mood. There is a good atmosphere and the players are 100 per cent behind the manager and each other.

We know what we are capable of – we need to go out and do it as a collective.

“The season has been disappointing and the table doesn’t lie. We have to find a way to get some of our mojo back and grind out a few results. But we also know it is a long season.

“We’ve got over 30 league games still to go – there is plenty of time to turn it around. Of course we don’t want to leave it too late.”

Ardley made a treble substitution at the start of the second half against Pompey – and his attempt to arrest a desperately poor opening 45 minutes had some success. James Hanson slammed home a fine goal from distance but the Dons could not find an equaliser.

“The whole first half was disappointing,” said Oshilaja. “We pride ourselves on energy and work ethic – I don’t think we had that. We had half chances in that first period but nothing to scream about.

“The boys knew they had to come out in the second half and play much better. The gaffer changed the formation and gave us a good talking to.

On another day we could have come away with a point but we gave ourselves a mountain to climb, we can’t keep doing that.

“No player has gone out of their way to not perform well or not do their job in the team.

Everyone is focused on doing things to the best of their ability. It just sometimes happens.

We came out in the second half and gave it a bit more heart, there was something for the fans to cheer about.

“The staff come into the dressing room at half time a little later than the players. Everyone says their bit. I say a few words – but everyone knows it already.

We’re an honest group and we know when we’re not playing well.

I tried to reiterate to the boys that we are good players, no matter what has happened, and that we need to pull ourselves together.The manager gave his thoughts and then told us to go out and change the game.”

The switches saw Oshilaja move from central defence to right-back. The former Cardiff defender was a decent outlet for the Dons as they pegged the League One leaders back.

“You have to be selfless,” said the Bermondsey man. “It is what the manager wants – he believed I could bring something there for the team.

“Of course I’m happy to stay there if he thinks it is going to benefit the team. I’ll wait and see what he decides. I’m sure he will pull me and talk about it if needed.”

Oshilaja is out of contract in the summer and had been the subject of approaches from Ipswich and Bolton in August.

“At the end of the day I am an employee of the club and the manager and the club decided it wasn’t meant to be,” said Oshilaja.

“I came back into training – and trained hard. I showed the manager I was committed to the cause.

“I’m a Wimbledon player until told otherwise. I haven’t let it [the speculation] affect my performance. I’ve not let certain things determine the way I feel and think.

“If it is meant to be then I’m sure it will happen at some point.”
IMAGE BY PAUL EDWARDS

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