Neal Ardley has claimed he will only be concerned with AFC Wimbledon’s League One position come the end of the season, writes Conor O’Sullivan.
The Dons travel to Bristol City on Saturday in the relegation zone before hitting the road again on Tuesday to face Oldham. Wimbledon will arrive at the Memorial Stadium in 21st position, one point from safety and five adrift of Saturday’s opponents.
The Dons boss is dealing with a number of absentees heading into the Bristol City fixture, with Callum Kennedy out with a back injury and midfielder George Francomb suspended after the Peterborough draw. Jimmy Abdou has returned from international duty with Comoros.
“I don’t even look at the league table,” Ardley said. “I look at how many points we have and I know by the end of 46 league games we need to reach around 52 points to stay in this division.
“At the moment, our average points per game has put us in the relegation zone. We must keep chipping away, it only matters how many points we have after 46 games.
“Things haven’t gone our way in the first part of the season but it’s up to us to change that. We have nine players out this weekend in total between the first team and under-23s, we’re borderline barebones.
“I don’t get frustrated about things that go outside my dressing room because I can’t control that. In modern football, people don’t care where you are in the budget table or where you’ve come from in terms of our progression since I joined the club.
“They want results and they want them yesterday. It’s part of the game now so we create a bubble among our players and staff to maintain that belief that we can go on a good run of form and not be influenced by outside negativity.
“You must manage expectations when the club is playing in a higher division but again that is just external noise when the only thing that really matters is preparing the team and performing at the weekend. I don’t worry about people outside the club.
“We’re a tight group and the players’ commitment has been fantastic. I’ve never felt at risk of losing the dressing room and have always built my management style on treating the players with respect and looking out for them and they reciprocate that.
“There’s been a frustration in the squad that our performances have been consistently good and we’ve matched every team we’ve played so far but haven’t turned that into enough positive results, which could be a confidence issue. But we can’t dwell on that too much.
“It’s tough when you don’t have the biggest squad in the league and our bench in the last few games has been full of academy players, which is great for the club and some of them deserve to be there, but it does show a lack of depth. We must be as competitive as possible and produce our best possible performance on Saturday no matter what the circumstances.
“We take each game as it comes, there’s not really any difference been home and away games apart from the travel.
“The league’s too tough to worry about ‘defining periods’ and we’re trying to build momentum and pick up points in any given game.”
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