peter sweeneyNEAL ARDLEY has cracked it in the transfer window with the signing of experienced Scottish midfield playmaker Peter Sweeney to boost Wimbledon’s fight to stay in the Football League.

Supporters will be hoping 28-year-old Sweeney can add the missing steel and nous to the midfield which has been one of the Dons weaknesses Ardley has identified since taking over from Terry Brown last October. It is Ardley’s first major signing as Dons’ manager.

On the face of it Sweeney comes with almost 250 games of Football League experience with Millwall, Stoke City, Leeds United, Grimsby Town and Bury. He played for Millwall in the 2004 FA Cup final against Manchester United at Millennium Stadium. He also played six times for Scotland’s Under 21s.

He offers the essential experience that Dons fans have been craving for to make the team competitive after one and half seasons of struggle in League Two.

It is signing which hopefully will lift spirits after Ardley missed out on a couple of likely targets since the January transfer window opened over a week ago. It might also encourage other waverers to sign up.

Sweeney’s experience is hard to come by for a club struggling at the foot of League 2 and Ardley is delighted to have got his man.

“Peter has played at a high level and played as a youngster for Millwall against Man United in the FA Cup Final,” Ardley said. “He has also played for other clubs at a higher level and he is a fantastic signing for us. He wanted to come back to London for family reasons and we are pleased to give him that opportunity.

“We were looking at signing him in November on loan, but we had a lot of players on loan then. We have kept tabs on him since then and Bury manager Kevin Blackwell has been a big help in making this happen. He is an experienced central midfielder with a wonderful left foot.”

Sweeney got a release from Bury and is keen to roll his sleeves up and get the Dons out of the relegation mire. He comes on a free transfer and took a wage cut to play for the Dons.

“Some people will say that I have taken a step down from League 1 football, but I would not have come here if I did not think Wimbledon were ambitious,” Sweeney said.

“The manager did not really have to sell the club to me. I know that Neal Ardley had a great playing career and once I spoke to him on the phone and he told me how I interested he was in signing me, it was a no-brainer. It all got done within a couple of days.”

So what can Sweeney offer Wimbledon that has been missing so far?

“I like to create goals – that is my main strength.  I aim to get on the ball and pass it, but I know that as a midfielder you also have to work hard and do the other side of things well, ” he said.

Bury fans 'gutted' to lose Dons-bound Sweeney
Bury fans ‘gutted’ to lose Dons-bound Sweeney

“The team is more than capable of staying up. When you are down near the bottom you want to try and get away from there come the end of February. We do not want to be looking over our shoulders and the sooner we get the points the better so that we can move away from the bottom four.”

Reading through the  Bury fans forum Sweeney is highly regarded ….  “Genuinely disappointed with this and for the first time I’m really questioning KB (Blackwell). This is a big big call.” …..  “I am absolutely gutted with this, totally and utterly gutted.” …. “AFC Wimbledon, would have expected him to find some where better than them (no disrespect).”  …..  “Shocking decision. Best midfield player of his type we have had in years,” are some of the views of the Shakers’ supporters and it goes on for pages and pages.

One poster offered this explanation for Sweeney’s Bury departure and at a cut in wages  …. “This was at Peter’s request. His wife has medical problems and is also pregnant, he has asked to be released to be closer to his family and the club have reluctantly agreed to his request.”

Sweeney is expected to be slotted into Wimbledon’s team for Saturday’s home game against Wycombe Wanderers as the Dons chase a third straight win.

In further news, Ardley has extended the loan periods for Toby Ajala and Jon Meades.  Things are looking up.

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