BY SAM SMITH
Neal Ardley admitted some extra work has had to take place over pre-season to ensure his AFC Wimbledon side is ready for the new season.
The Dons have had 10 players leave since the culmination of last season while six new ones have been signed – which has led to extra efforts to ensure the new-look squad is prepared for the 2018-19 campaign opener against Fleetwood on August 4.
Ardley said: “A lot of work is having to be done on the training field to get the message across of what we’re about and what we’re aiming to be this season.
“The lads have got to take some responsibility for that.
“There has certainly got to be some extra work tactically to make sure everyone is on the same page, but the boys have really surprised me because in just three weeks they’ve taken a lot on board and it’s worked well. There are bits we still need to iron out, but most of the stuff is good.
“I hope not [that the process of new players becoming familiar with the club will take too long]. They all know how to play football and we have a lot of quality that will carry us through. The aim at the start of the season will be that we get points on the board early and hopefully we can find a way of getting results while still being in the process of improving.”
The South Londoners have had a tough pre-season programme so far, with two friendlies against Championship opposition either side of a trip to Woking – and face Premier League outfit Brighton next Saturday.
But Ardley has relished the opportunity to welcome some big names to Kingsmeadow.
“It’s always nice to build up [the difficulty of games in] pre-season and have your hardest games towards the end. With us we also like to attract some good teams here to try to make a good occasion and get people through the gates so you have to take those games when you can.
“For example, playing Reading in your first pre-season game isn’t ideal – and you would probably want to start with a team below you – but all these games have been good tests for us.”