AFC Wimbledon let a half-time lead slip on Saturday against Forest Green Rovers but remain unbeaten in the early stages of the new season.
This will of course be encouraging for a club that has spent the last two campaigns starving off relegation. The signs of squad unity are better than have been shown for a long time at Plough Lane. The strikers are still yet to hit the goals regularly, which could be a concern, but they are getting into the positions you want them to, so it should only be a matter of time.
With just days remaining in the summer transfer window, it will be interesting to see if manager Johnnie Jackson adds to the plethora of players already gained so far. He may well need to or at least test the loan market. A main reason could be the injuries to starting midfielders Armani Little and captain Jake Reeves. The two have been the engine that has propelled the Dons forward in the opening games, but with both suffering setbacks at the weekend, it did leave the team a little bereft in the central areas.
Reeves has been the main star so far and his loss was evident as the afternoon went on. His replacement James Ball, an acquisition from relegated Rochdale, did score the Dons goal in the 1-1 draw, but is not the long-term answer if the captain’s hamstring niggle is to put him on the sidelines for longer than Jackson would like. With a big Carabao Cup tie this Wednesday against Premier League giants Chelsea, it may have been a chance to rest one or two players anyway, but then again no one likes to be rested when these big games come around.
Little is more willing to take the ball forward, and his injury does not appear to be as bad as Reeves’, with Harry Pell filling in his gap. This won’t be seen as big a loss, but does present a fragility in squad depth that the management team will want to address should any more injuries or suspensions occur.
Some players have come up from the Academy, with Morgan Williams, capped at the Wales Youth level, seing plenty of minutes in pre-season. This was seen as an issue last season when the bench was often full of untried and untested youngsters.
Wimbledon will be wary that any long-term injuries could hamper their progress this season. They will certainly not want to fall into the trap that cost them in the second half of last season when Jackson felt he could not rely on his young players.
With limited funds available for the Dons, it will come down to how savvy the Head of Football, Craig Cope can be. He is well known in non-league circles and his extensive knowledge of the National League could come into use in the coming days should Wimbledon feel the need to dip into the lower leagues to find a suitable backup to the midfield area, or indeed bolster a squad that if needed to for long periods, go beyond their starting group.