AFC Wimbledon boss had hoped to extend Chelsea coach’s stay at League One club

Mark Robinson has admitted that he had hoped to keep James Simmonds at AFC Wimbledon for the remainder of the League One campaign but understands Chelsea’s decision to recall the coach.

Simmonds joined the Dons on secondment from the European champions in the summer, leaving his role as the Blues’ U18 assistant to join Robinson’s first-team coaching staff.

But the 34-year-old coach has been brought back to Stamford Bridge to continue his development.

“I always knew that the agreement was until January, but then you sort of hope that it might get extended,” Robinson told the South London Press. “I know James was loving it and felt that he was learning loads and would have liked to have seen the season through because you feel so much coming to fruition.

“I completely understand. Chelsea were great loaning James out to me. I was prepared for it, but a little bit of me was hoping that we might get to keep him.

“It’s been a great experience for James and for us, so it’s been really good.”

When asked if he was impressed with how quickly Simmonds integrated himself into life at Plough Lane during his six-month spell with the South Londoners, Robinson added: “I really was. But when you come into our environment, it grabs you like that.

“When people come into the training ground, they get that feeling. It’s very easy to feel a part of it very quickly, but James has got a great personality and a great character anyway, so that made it even better.

“It felt as though he had always been with us really, and he had a real impact on us, both as a person and with his ideas.”

Simmonds’ departure opened the door for Robinson to promote James Oliver-Pearce from his role as Wimbledon U18 head coach to join the first-team staff.

“I have known James and worked with him for nearly six years when he was my assistant with the youth team – he loves winning, and he is obsessed with it,” added Robinson.

“Coming into the first-team environment, he is very tactically astute and also puts on excellent sessions. It will be great for him, but it will also be really good for us.

“James has been involved a few times with the first team when he has come along, and the players have seen that he has got excellent knowledge. I love promoting from within. It’s really important to keep everyone developing in the building.

“Although we’re sad to lose Simmo, there is always a positive to come out of it.”




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