AFC Wimbledon vice-captain Alex Pearce has spoken exclusively to Wimbledon Times, in collaboration with Sky Bet, ahead of his side’s cup tie with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge tonight (August 30).

Following the draw with Forest Green this weekend, he discussed Coventry, the Carabao Cup, the positive vibes in the dressing room, and how manager Johnnie Jackson banned talk of the Dons’ poor 2022-23 campaign.

The manager has given us a clean slate this season 

“The club did a lot of good work over the summer, they really got to grips with the whole football club. From a player's point of view, we could really see a massive difference from when we first turned up at the club.

“We then all came together in pre-season and had a really good one. The manager outlaid his plans on day one, he said it's going to be a six-week process, everyone's got a clean slate, with no talk of last season. He actually put a ban on anyone talking about last season, which I thought was great. We were all aware that last season wasn't a successful time for us all and last year was quite a negative vibe, so for him to do that got us straight off on the right foot.  

“From then on, it was all positive vibes, and we had a really good pre-season, we stayed unbeaten. People say results don't matter in preseason, and they don't really, but it's still always nice to get good results and to put in good performances.

“We're happy but it's just the start and we cannot afford to get complacent or let any sort of complacency set in in the group. That’s what me and the other players will be striving for, to make sure that that doesn't happen.” 


I’m honoured to be the vice-captain of AFC Wimbledon

“The manager pulled me to one side before the Wealdstone friendly in the last week of pre-season and told me he was going to be making me vice-captain; it was a great feeling, and I was honoured to accept it. I've got a decent amount of experience behind me in the game and if I can pass that on to any other lads, especially the younger lads, then I'm more than happy to do so.  

“There's a decent number of young lads in the group, for someone like myself to give back to those players, I’d be more than happy to do so. They can lean on me with any sort of queries they have about the game and I'm more than happy to help them out.” 


Beating Coventry gives us huge belief and confidence going forward

“It was a magnificent occasion [beating Coventry City] under the lights of Plough Lane, we saw how much the performance from the boys meant to the fans. I was on the bench, but for me to sit and watch that game and see how much the lads put into it, it was magnificent against a top Championship side. The lads should take huge belief and confidence from that in terms of knowing that they can go toe to toe with a top championship club and come out on top.  

“I was personally very pleased for Ryan McLean to get the winner. He came on as a sub, he was really lively, and he deserved his goal. That was a great moment for him personally, and it was great to see.”  

There is zero pressure on us to beat Chelsea, we can’t wait

“The next round is going to be huge, it's Chelsea Football Club. You don't get many opportunities to play at a stadium like Stamford Bridge, I can tell you that firsthand. There's zero pressure on the boys and there's zero pressure on the football club, it's an opportunity to go to a massive club and a fantastic stadium and just enjoy the experience.  

“We're going to make it as tough as we can for them. It’s just one of those occasions where, as a player for AFC Wimbledon to go there, it's fantastic. The boys are thoroughly looking forward to it and can't wait really.”