AFC WimbledonSport

Chris Gunter is Qatar bound – and Wales’ World Cup build-up never in danger of distracting Dons defender

AFC Wimbledon boss Johnnie Jackson says he did not need to worry about Chris Gunter’s level of performance dropping due to the upcoming Qatar World Cup.

Jackson has also explained that Gunter’s departure will afford an opportunity to 20-year-old Isaac Ogundere.

Gunter was selected for Robert Page’s Wales squad for the 2022 World Cup on Wednesday evening. The 33-year-old is Wales’ most capped player with 109 appearances.

The right-back, who has made 16 appearances under Johnnie Jackson since signing on a free transfer from Charlton in the summer, will play his final game for the Dons on Saturday away to Salford and then head off for Wales duty.

Wales are in Group B alongside England, Iran and USA.

“We have known that for a while with Gunts,” Jackson told the South London Press when asked about how big of a miss for the former Reading and Nottingham Forest man will be.

“You’ll see it with a lot of players in the Premier League – it’s a strange scenario that one week they will be playing league games and then off to a World Cup.

“You do wonder if the level of performance will stay or it will dip, but I didn’t need to worry with Gunts – he is a total professional and loves playing football.

AFC Wimbledon v Sutton United SkyBet League Two, Plough Lane, 15 October 2022
Picture : Keith Gillard

“He wants to play every week and train every day – and he was bang up for it tonight [vs Leyton Orient]. He will obviously be a loss, but it will be an opportunity for someone else to come in and fill his shoes. Hopefully they can do it as well.”

Academy graduate Ogundere has made 12 appearances this season but has recently dropped out of the starting line-up since the change in formation.

“Ogs is an able deputy – when called upon, he has done really well,” said Jackson. “For a young lad who made his debut at Bradford, he was outstanding.

“He had a run of games. Obviously, he has come out of the side. I spoke to him and said: ‘You have been unbelievable, and there will be opportunities down the line’.

“We will have a look at it and decide, but Ogs has got a real opportunity now to play games.”


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