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Gary Waddock's AFC Wimbledon Preview

11 October 2019

Southend United face a big test at Roots Hall on Saturday against AFC Wimbledon, only one place and two points above them in the league table.

Blues have picked up just one point at home which caretaker manager Gary Waddock will want to quickly improve upon.

And Waddock is aware it’s a big game against another managerless side following Dons boss Wally Downes’ indefinite suspension, accused of breaking betting regulations.

"They’ve had an upturn in terms of results but it’s more about how we approach the game and go into the game,” he said.

"The players have trained hard and well this week, there was a game on Tuesday for some of the lads that needed the minutes so all in all it’s been a decent week.

"It’s an important game. There’s three points at stake against a club that are close to us so it’s an important fixture.

"The players need to show character, attitude, desire, determination, all those words need to be shown on Saturday to get any type of result.

"We need to make sure we come to the game focussed and ready to go.”

Waddock watched Tom Hopper come through 45 minutes of action on Tuesday against Maidstone United.

Hopper has been out for 11 and a half months after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament.

He won’t be rushed, Waddock said, but added there’s a discussion to be had about his involvement in the matchday squad.

"I was pleased with him, he got 45 minutes but that’s his first game in a long time.

"We have to make sure we do everything right with him and then have a conversation to see how he feels with everything that has gone on over the last 11 to 12 months.

"We’ll have a conversation and see where we go.

"That first game a big barrier to overcome. Early on he was a bit rusty which you would expect, but once he got his second wind you see the qualities that he has and what he can bring to the team.

"Sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture and protect the player. As much as he wants to be involved, it’s only his first action so we’ll have a number of conversations from now to Saturday and see where we are with it.

"No decision has been made as of yet, but in terms of coming back 45 minutes isn’t long enough to put someone into a very important fixture.

"The bigger picture is making sure he’s right longer term."

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