Exclusive: Kwesi Appiah on transfer rumours, why criticism will never affect him and being in the scoring groove for AFC Wimbledon

BY RICHARD CAWLEY
richard@slpmedia.co.uk

Kwesi Appiah insists he is happy ignoring transfer speculation – with his sole focus on helping to fire AFC Wimbledon to League One safety.

The 28-year-old has hit the goal trail in recent weeks, netting three times in the last five games.

That included the winner at Fleetwood Town on Saturday to take the Dons into the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Appiah was linked this week with League One promotion-chasers Luton Town, amid claims he has a buyout clause of £100,000 in his contract.

The former Crystal Palace man still has 18 months to run on his current terms.
Asked about move talk, he said: “I’m not really paying too much attention – I’m getting on with the job in hand
.

“We all know the situation the club is in at the moment and we have got to make sure that everyone is focused on achieving our goals here.

“It’s nice to hear speculation, but that’s exactly what it is.”

Appiah seems to have been energised by Wally Downes’ appointment. The Dons boss said: “I saw games before where I didn’t think he was being used as best as he could be.

“He can hold the ball up well but for me he is a bit more dynamic than that – he can get in behind and has an eye for goal.

“I believe you have got to give players the chance to do what they are good at.”

Appiah added: “The team are all on the same page now, playing a style and knowing what gets success – that is bringing the best out of me.

“We are finding a way to play through the manager’s tactics. I hope that carries on through the rest of the season.

“If you win games it gives you confidence. We went to Portsmouth and gave them a good game. We believe in our own ability. There is a bit more of a positive feel around the place – that comes with results.”

Appiah was one of the players who received criticism during the troubled end of Neal Ardley’s reign.

But after previously being sidelined in his career by long-term injuries, the forward was never going to let it derail him.

“When you go through serious ones it is a different level of mental testing,” said Appiah. “To come through that and be where I am today, I know all about my mental stability.

“I’m all good about that. I’m not worried about little comments or things on social media – I ain’t bothered about that sort of stuff.

“No-one can question my mental strength with what I have been through in my life. When the team is going through a tough time you are going to get negativity from fans and the press. As a team we need to make sure we stay confident.

“When things aren’t going well then no-one likes you. When it is going well, then people like you. I’m not really fussed by that.

“What I would say is where we found ourselves – fighting relegation – we need everyone behind us. The message now is that we don’t need anyone bringing negativity. Bring positivity instead and help us along the way.”

It was Ardley who targeted Appiah in the summer of 2017 – snapping him up following his release by the Eagles. The Ghana international has scored 11 goals in 50 appearances for the Dons.

“When Neal left, the club was in a very sticky situation with the form and amount of games we hadn’t won for,” said Appiah. “I felt for the man, because he had done a fantastic job – taking the club from League Two and up via the play-offs.

“He had some success and good times. I spoke to him after he left. We’ve got a good relationship, I wish him all the best at Notts County. They are one of my former clubs and they are a big club – they deserve to be in a better position than what they are in.

“We have got a new manager now and it is a big deal in his managing career and for us as players. This appointment is crucial.

“As I said previously, you can’t come in here and be negative. You have to be bright, positive and bubbly – we need that energy to help us change our mindset after going through a sticky period.”

Wimbledon get another crack at West Ham United before the end of the month. The two clubs met in the EFL Cup  at the end of August. Joe Pigott headed them in front at the Cherry Red Records Stadium but centre-back Rod McDonald was dismissed just 18 minutes in.

West Ham scored three times in the final half hour.

“It’s a shame the tie wasn’t away because it would have been a bit of a bigger financial boost for the club and our players would have had the chance to play at a Premier League stadium,” said Appiah. “Hopefully we can do better than last time, but when you consider we had 10 men, we ran them pretty close.

“We didn’t get embarrassed and can take some positives from that. We’ll see what we are capable of this time.”

PICTURE BY SEAN GOSLING

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