Neal keen to make signings feel at home

Neal Ardley ensured that Wimbledon’s six summer signings were made to feel at home today at the start of pre-season training.

Sean Rigg, Adebayo Akinfenwa, Matt Tubbs, Dannie Bulman, Mark Phillips and Ade Azeez are pictured left to right above in the club’s new Admiral training tops (picture by Zoe Linkson) and Neal was keen to offer them a special welcome. 

“When new players come to the training ground for the first time they don’t know everyone so today we were all waiting outside for them to arrive,” said Neal. “We wanted to welcome them in and make them feel loved as soon as they came into training. We wanted to introduce the new players to the rest of the squad straight away rather than them just turning up and not knowing what to expect.

“The new players were welcomed into the first-team squad and straight away they all really feel at home. They were made to feel special and that’s important. Bayo Akinfwena is a big character and you can see that straight away. I’m sure he’s going to be a really positive influence on rest of the boys. When you get new players in they are eager to impress in the first couple of days. Once you get the rustiness out of the players things will start to take shape.” 

Neal also revealed that the whole squad were given a pre-season schedule for every day up until Wimbledon’s League 2 opener Saturday, 9 August. 

“We had a meeting this morning when we went through the schedule and we planned every day up until the Shrewsbury match,” the Wimbledon manager added. “The players have been given flip charts so that they know when their work and rest days are, along with the days when they do double sessions. I think the players will appreciate that transparency so that they know what their schedules are for the next six weeks.

“Today it was a case of blowing away the cobwebs, but tomorrow will be a tough one so they have to be ready for that. They started off with a bit of an endurance run then we got out the balls. Even on the technical side of ball work we put elements of running in there. There were a few dripping with sweat, but that’s a good sign. It’s all about getting their base fitness levels up gradually. It was a very good session today, but we have to be careful not to work them too hard with it being day one.”