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  • Writer's pictureBy Dan Evans

Dons boss Jackson calls for January reinforcements as he explains key man’s absence

AFC Wimbledon manager Johnnie Jackson believes his side will need attacking additions in the January transfer window after they struggled to fashion chances in a 2-1 defeat to local rivals Sutton United.

A 69th-minute strike from Sutton forward Omar Bugiel brought an end to Wimbledon’s 10-match unbeaten run in League Two and secured a deserved win for the hosts.

Josh Davison’s eighth goal of the season had drawn Jackson’s men level at Gander Green Lane following a Will Randall opener, but a lack of attackers on the bench left the 40-year-old with few changes to make to help find a second equaliser.

“I’ve got a lot of good, experienced defensive cover but we are lacking attacking options, there is no getting away from that,” he said.

“If we lose a couple of bodies we are very light. It impacts the starting eleven and affects what you can do from the bench as well.

“It’s an important window for this football club. If we can do the right kind of business it gives us a really good chance going into the second half of the season.”

Jackson also revealed that Huddersfield Town could potentially cut short Kyle Hudlin’s loan spell at Plough Lane in the coming days.

The striker has started three of Wimbledon’s last four games across all competitions after initially struggling for game time following his summer arrival.

“Huddersfield have got a re-call option so there’s a good chance we’ll lose him,” said the former Charlton boss.

“We have a regular dialogue with them and it is something they are monitoring. Ultimately it is their call.”

“We have to know (if they will re-call) in the first week of January so we should know pretty soon.”

Another player who has been linked with a potential departure in January is attacking midfielder Ayoub Assal.

The Dons’ creative maestro was absent from the matchday squad at Gander Green Lane, sparking pre-match speculation that interest in his services was becoming firmer.

Wimbledon rarely tested Jack Rose in the Sutton goal without Assal, but his manager revealed that a possible transfer was not why he missed the fixture.

“He (Assal) is ill. He’s unwell,” explained Jackson.

“He’s a key player for, we missed his spark today. We haven’t got the squad to be able to lose big players like that. It’s obviously going to cause us issues.

“We’ll need to see how he is for next weekend.”

Brentford loanee Nathan Youngs Coombe took Assal’s place in the starting line up to make his first start since early September following a serious knee injury.

The forward was substituted at half-time following an ineffective first half display, and Jackson admitted post-match that he would have liked to have reintroduced the 19-year-old in more gentle circumstances.

“He (Young Coombes) has been out for a long time and it wouldn’t have been my intention to use him from the start today,” said Jackson.

“I would have liked to have built his minutes up, but obviously Assal was out so it was a case of needs must.”

Wimbledon’s last league defeat also came against Sutton back in October, and their failure to start 2023 with a win means they missed out an opportunity to move into the League Two playoff spots.

However, Jackson was firm in his belief that his side are still on course for a successful end to the season.

“We have made a lot of progress since October,” he stated.

“We have to re-focus and use this as a little kick up the backside to spur us on.”


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