Scunthorpe United kick off the new season on Saturday with a tough home fixture against AFC Wimbledon.
Iron boss Graham Alexander has confirmed that he already knows which team he will start off with in the season opener.
Throughout much of pre-season, Alexander has favoured the increasingly popular formation of playing with three centre-backs – which he is likely to deploy against the Dons this weekend. However, he has also stated that he is willing to revert to a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 formation, depending on the opposition.
If Alexander does plunge for the new formation, the wing-back positions will surely be filled by Jordan Clarke and Conor Townsend. In front of the defence, Neal Bishop has a good chance of making the starting lineup, having been an almost ever-present name on the team sheet under Alexander. Josh Morris will more than likely get the nod, with many Iron fans hoping he can recreate the form he showed last season. After an impressive pre-season, Hakeeb Adelakun may have played his way into a starting spot, with Paddy Madden likely to start up front after his goal against Luton last week.
The only players to miss out on the game are Luke Williams and Lewis Butroid. Williams has only just started back in training this week having been out injured for the best part of four months, and Butroid has failed to train all week. It is yet unknown whether or not Tom Hopper will be named in the squad, having seen a bid from Mansfield for his services accepted by the club. Other than that, the Iron at full strength ahead of the big kick off.
There are five new faces that have come through the door at Glanford Park this summer, all of which will be hoping to make their United debut. Matt Gilks is expected to start in goal, bringing along a wealth of experience between the sticks. In front of him, newly appointment captain Rory McArdle will almost certainly lead the team out, with Cameron Burgess hoping to partner him in the defence.
The Iron’s new midfielders Funso Ojo and Devonte Redmond are also in contention to make their first appearances for the side, although it is likely only one of them will start the game.
Wimbledon Team News
AFC Wimbledon come into the game hoping to build on a solid first season for the club in League One. The Dons finished the campaign in 15th place, but following their win against Scunthorpe at Glanford Park back in February, they only managed to win one more game before the end of the season. That form goes out of the window now, though.
In the Wombles squad, there is a number of old Iron faces that will be returning to play at Glanford Park in this one.
Lyle Taylor will probably start in a forward position and, although his time at Scunthorpe didn’t work out too well, he has been in impressive form since signing for Wimbledon back in 2015.
On the wing, Andy Barcham is expected to start. Now and again Barcham did put in good performances for the Iron – but unfortunately for him, he never really captured the adulation of the Scunthorpe faithful.
Liam Trotter will return once again to play at Glanford Park. If things had worked out differently for the central midfielder this summer, he could have been lining up against Wimbledon for the home side, having been on trial at the club earlier this summer.
Finally, former United left-back Callum Kennedy is coming back to play against his old side, he is another one that never really got going in a Scunthorpe shirt. Kennedy is also making his first appearance back with the Dons, having spent a year away at Leyton Orient.
For the fixture, Wimbledon boss Neal Ardley has confirmed they will have three absentees ahead of the game, with experienced centre-half Darius Charles missing out, along with full-back Jon Meades and midfielder Tom Soares.
The Dons have made seven new signings of their own this summer, with the previously mentioned Callum Kennedy and Liam Trotter joining the club, the loan signings of keeper George Long and Nadjim Abdou, centre-back Adedeji Oshilaja from Cardiff, and danger men strikers Cody McDonald and Kwesi Appiah joining on free transfers.
Despite the Iron only facing AFC Wimbledon six times in the club’s history, their record against the Dons is less than impressive.
In the first of those matches back in 2011, the two sides drew 0-0 in the FA Cup, before the Wombles then went on to win the rematch at Glanford Park. The next time they met was in League Two, and Wimbledon were victorious again having come from behind to win 3-2. Later that season, the two teams played out another 0-0 draw. Scunthorpe finally got their first win over the Dons early on last season, having scraped a 2-1 victory away from home. Then, as previously mentioned, the Wombles beat the Iron in their last encounter back in February of this year.
The Iron will be hoping to avenge their poor recent results against the Dons and get the season off to a flying start with a win this Saturday.