Kwesi Appiah under pressure heading into crunch clash
Ghanaian striker Kwesi Appiah is under pressure heading into AFC Wimbledon's fixture against key rivals Milton Keynes Dons, which is the pick of the EFL League One's seventh round of matches this weekend.
Appiah may have scored two goals this season (more than any other Wimbledon player) from five appearances, but he has generally been playing poorly and struggling for game time ahead of the visit to Stadium MK in Buckinghamshire for the latest instalment of the intense rivalry between the two offshoots of the defunct Wimbledon FC.
AFC Wimbledon are yet to win this season and find themselves sitting in the relegation zone of League One.
MK Dons have fared little better than their rivals (six points and 15th place on the ladder compared with two points and 21st) but they do hold bragging rights from their penalty shootout win over Wimbledon in the Carabao Cup last month.
With the pressure building on Dons manager Wally Downes, he might soon find the temptation to make changes to the line-up too strong to resist -- particularly if his regulars cannot get the better of MKD in the early kick-off on Saturday.
Appiah could be among the players who feel the pinch if Downes feels pressured into shuffling his pack, making this game highly important for the 29-year-old striker, who was part of the Ghana national team set up as recently as the first half of 2019.
He was certainly not at his best in Wimbledon's latest league match, squandering numerous chances in their goalless draw against Wycombe Wanderers before he was substituted after an hour of play.
The Black Stars attacker now also faces a further threat from within Wimbledon's ranks, as the club recently brought in Marcus Forss as one of three deadline-day signings. The 20-year-old is highly regarded and already catching the eye of his manager.
"He's not a traditional big No. 9," Downes said of his new acquisition in attack.
"Everyone is after big centre forwards, and they cost a bit.
"Marcus is fine in the air, but he has attributes that are different to a traditional No. 9. In particular, he is quick, and he scores goals."
That latter quality is the crux: If Appiah cannot prove himself a reliable source of goals, particularly in crunch matches such as Saturday's against the Dons, then he may soon be spending more time on the bench than he would like.
Selection Headache for Blackpool's Grayson
Blackpool head to Birmingham for a clash with Coventry City at St Andrew's Stadium in the other League One broadcast live on ESPN Africa this weekend, and Tangerines manager Simon Grayson faces a selection headache after his much-changed side put in a great midweek showing to defeat Morecambe 5-1 in a Leasing.com Trophy cup tie.
"This team has gone out there because they've not played much football recently, and other lads have had the opportunity," Grayson said after the midweek win.
"It was great to see some good, individual performances.
"There will be people out of the 18 on Saturday that probably don't deserve to be. I'll deal with those situations. All you can do is fight for the opportunity, get a shirt and keep it."
Coventry, meanwhile, will be looking to incorporate surprise deadline-day signing Liam Walsh into their squad.
"We needed something there in the middle of the park," Coventry manager Mark Robins said of his loanee from Bristol City.
"At the end of the day he [Walsh] is a top player, a really good player who I watched when he was a young player at Everton at just 17-18 and always liked him then."
Other African Stars On Show
Nigerian forward Victor Adeboyejo will chase his first goal of the season when Bristol Rovers host Offrande Zanzala's Accrington Stanley at Memorial Stadium, Emmanuel Monthe will feature in defence for Tranmere Rovers at home to Ousseynou Cisse's Gillingham, and Adem El Abd's Wycombe Wanderers take on Lincoln City at Adams Park.
Top Quote Heading Into The Weekend
"Fortunately it is not a broken leg because the challenge is certainly capable of that. He knows that -- that is why he took his player off. I have a lot of respect for John [Coleman] but on Tuesday his team were disgusting." -- Fleetwood Town manager Joey Barton after a rough-and-tumble Leasing.com Trophy loss to Accrington Stanley in midweek, in which winger Wes Burns was stretchered off following a challenge by Lamine Kaba-Sherif.
League One News
-- Southend United's Isaac Hutchinson has apologised for his red card at Leyton Orient in the Leasing.com Trophy match that ended in a 2-0 defeat for the Blues. The 19-year-old midfielder was sent off by referee Christopher Pollard after pushing the O's Dale Gorman to the floor with both hands on the stroke of halftime at Brisbane Road.
-- Bolton Wanderers' reported move for former Rangers striker Joe Dodoo is not as close as has been stated. New manager Keith Hill is keen to look at his whole squad before making any more transfer decisions. In his 27 appearances for the Gers, Dodoo scored five goals and assisted in three more. He was also sent out on loan to the likes of Blackpool and Bury.
-- Bury FC fans struggling with the demise of the club are being offered mental health support sessions on the NHS. A mental health service run by the Pennine Care NHS Trust wants to help supporters with "emotional distress or upset" after the club's expulsion from the English Football League.
League One, Round 7
Saturday, Sept. 7 (All Times CAT)
1 p.m: Milton Keynes Dons v AFC Wimbledon - LIVE on ESPN Africa
1.30 p.m.: Doncaster Rovers v Rotherham United
4 p.m.: Bristol Rovers v Accrington Stanley
4 p.m.: Coventry City v Blackpool - LIVE on ESPN Africa
4 p.m.: Fleetwood Town v Oxford United
4 p.m.: Tranmere Rovers v Gillingham
4 p.m.: Wycombe Wanderers v Lincoln City
Portsmouth v Southend United
Shrewsbury Town v Peterborough United
Sunderland v Burton Albion