Ardley gambles on fringe names to save the Dons ship

Three more players through the revolving door to the AFC Wimbledon dressing room

Deadline time: Ardley picked up Toby Ajala just before the loan transfer window yesterday SP70799

New man: Jake Reeves in one of seven new loan players brought in by Neal Ardley SP72027

First published in Sport Wandsworth Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Sports Editor

The revolving door to the AFC Wimbledon dressing room continued to spin yesterday as boss Neal Ardley brought in three more short-term names in an attempt to turn the floundering League Two Dons ship around.

Ardley has taken a gamble on West Ham United U21 striker Paul McCallum, Kettering Town midfielder Ryan Hervel and Bristol City winger Toby Ajala.

The triple influx, with Kieran Djilai, Neil Sullivan, Jonathan Meades and Jake Reeves, means Ardley has brought in seven new short-term players.

Players going the other way in recent weeks include Christian Jolley to Newport County, Dale Bennett to Yeovil Town, Angus MacDonald to Torquay United and Brendan Kiernan to Braintree Town.

George Francomb has played his last game for the club - his loan comes to an end in two days but illness means he misses tomorrow's clash at Morecambe.

Steven Gregory remains with the Dons until December 15.

McCallum comes in on a one-month loan, Hervel in on non-contract terms and Ajala signed a six-month deal moments before the 5pm deadline.

The young Hammer McCallum, who spent the second half of last season at Rochdale and started his career at Dulwich Hamlet, is yet to make an appearance in the top flight, but is impressing in the development squad scoring six goals in 11 appearances.

Ardley has also taken on midfielder Ryan Hervel from Kettering Town, a club which has been shipping players out in an attempt to stay afloat financially in the Southern League Premier Division.

McCallum and Ajala are eligible for the FA Cup, while Hervel is cup-tied.

On Ajala, Ardley said: "Toby is a player with pace who can play on either flank or up front. He is what we need as he can bring more pace to our attacking play.

"I tried to get him into the U21s set-up when I was at Cardiff. However, Bristol City had already made a move for him prior to me watching him."

Ardley was forced into the loan market after branding Tuesday night’s defeat to Southend as unacceptable, claiming some players were only interested in themselves and not the team.

The defeat, the fourth in 10 games since Ardley took over, has the Dons perilously close to the drop zone with a tough trip to Morecambe to come this weekend, and a six-pointer against Barnet on December 8.

“The Southend game was not about tactics, it was not about 4-4-2 or whether it was better to have three up front – it was about probably five players bringing their game and desire to the team and we’re not good enough to carry six players who don’t,” said Ardley.

“If we marked from corners well, we’re still in the game. If we compress and compress, even at 1-0 we’re still in the game. That’s what we’ve been good at.

“We did that against Aldershot when we were 1-0 down and did not play well. We stay in the game and we work hard.

“Against Southend, there were three set pieces where players didn’t take ownership or responsibility for their roles and the game was over.”

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