AFC WimbledonSport

Dons midfielder: Injury have forced friends to quit game – so I can’t look back with any frustration

By Richard Cawley

Liam Trotter is enjoying regular football at AFC Wimbledon – but does not look back on his injury-disrupted time at Bolton Wanderers with any regrets.

The 29-year-old was released by the Lancashire club last summer and signed a deal with the Dons until the summer of 2019.

Trotter made his 38th appearance of the season in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Oxford United. He amassed 73 for Bolton, who he joined from Millwall in July 2014.

The Ipswich-born midfielder, who started on his hometown club’s books, has played 307 first-team matches.

“I just wanted to move somewhere where I could have a good chance – not a guarantee – where the manager would play me every week if I was playing well,” said Trotter, when explaining plumping for Wimbledon as his next destination.

“I needed to get a lot of games under my belt after three tough seasons at Bolton.

“I was injured a lot there and in and out of the team. There were a couple of other things, like coming back down south and being closer to my family, that played a part. But also it is just a feel for a club. Callum Kennedy is a good friend of mine, he spoke very highly of life here.

“I can’t bemoan the fact I was injured too much at Bolton, that’s football. I have been very fortunate to play a lot of games and to be fit a lot of the time. I’ve had friends who have had very serious injuries which have ended their careers. It’s hard to be too disappointed looking back – it is a great club, I made some good friends there and ended it on a promotion.”

Talking of colleagues in the game who have had more serious injuries, Trotter has Billy Clarke as a house-mate. The Charlton attacker is recovering from his second knee cruciate ligament injury – he is out until the start of next season.

“We were good friends at Ipswich and have been ever since,” said Trotter. “Thankfully I’ve never had anything that serious. I’ve been out one or two months, never eight or nine months.

“Scotty [Barron, Trotter’s agent] had an injury which cut his career short.”

Trotter had four years with Millwall in the Championship – scoring 24 goals in 138 matches – before his Den exit.

So how does he feel his game has changed since then?

“I’m more of an all-round player now,” said Trotter. “Defensively I have become a bit more astute and play my position better. I’m more controlling of the game, getting hold of it a little bit more.

“I can influence it more with my passing, whereas at Millwall I was getting into attacking areas in the opposition box – scoring goals. Now I influence in different ways, even if it is just behind the ball a little more.

“It’s natural maturity as a player gets older and their legs get a little less.”

Wimbledon’s prospects of League One survival have been boosted by last weekend’s three-point haul against the U’s.

Manager Neal Ardley has set 52 as the target for ensuring the club are safe from the drop.

“That will be there or thereabouts but it is hard to call right now,” said Trotter. “We can’t look too far ahead. We could get to 51 and think we only need one more – with however many games we have got left – then not get another point and go down.

“Saturday was a massive win. It kind of drags Oxford into it. More importantly it is good for our confidence and momentum.

“We’ve been on a decent run of form lately, other than the Blackburn game – and they are top of the league. It was good to get another three points.

“Any teams three or four points above us is still going to be in it. If you win two games it pulls you out of it, but if you lose two it drops you right back in it. It’s extremely tight.”

There is no silverware for Wimbledon’s squad to chase. But Trotter insists securing League One status brings its own satisfaction.

“Look at leagues and they usually go to form,” he said. “Every so often a team with a low budget will have a really good season and a team with a low budget will have a bad season. Most of the time teams usually end up where their budget is.

“It is a massive achievement for AFC Wimbledon, who have only been going for 15 years, to be where are. For us to stay in this league and then kick on, is what we are aiming for.”

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