AFC WimbledonSport

‘How can a negative be picked out of that?’ – Dons boss on long-term deal for Will Nightingale

Mark Robinson was adamant that AFC Wimbledon were right to hand Will Nightingale a new three-and-a-half-year deal amid fans’ concerns over the defender’s injury history.

The Wandsworth-born academy product has suffered a handful of long-term injuries since breaking through into the first team in 2014.

Nightingale was ruled out for up to seven months in 2015 after requiring surgery on his knee. He missed the end of the 2017-18 season after rupturing his anterior talofibular ligament.

The now 26-year-old then missed most of the 2019-20 season with a hip injury that also needed surgery.

And midway through the start of this season under Mark Robinson, Nightingale missed more than two months of the campaign after picking up sprains to his ankle, ACL and posterolateral corner in training.

The former Dons captain put pen to paper on a new deal that was announced before Saturday’s 2-0 loss at home to Lincoln City.

When asked about a section of fans being surprised at the length of the deal, Robinson told the South London Press: “It’s better to be surprised at that than letting players go for nothing, such as in the past.

“We live in a world where people, no matter what you do, are surprised at something. But we have wasted hundreds of thousands of pounds in the past, so let’s just celebrate that we are probably going to be the only club in the country to have a ‘one-club man’.

“How we can pick a negative out of that just shows that state of mind that we’re currently in at the moment.”

Robinson was keen to praise 23-year-old Luke McCormick after the Dons recorded their 19th game without a win in all competitions.

He was replaced by Anthony Hartigan in the 82nd minute.

“I only took him off because Ant is so good at set-pieces. Luke was brilliant, and I didn’t take him off for any other reason than that – those are the decisions that you have got to make.

“I thought that at 1-0, if we got a set-piece, Ant is the best in the league at set-pieces, so because we were missing chances, that was where the equaliser could come from.

“I didn’t take Luke off because of his performance at all, it was purely to get Ant on because they were fouling us.”


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