Mark Bowen says 17-year-old Alfie Bendle will be a “big player” for AFC Wimbledon after he made his first-team debut in the 4-3 loss to Accrington Stanley.
Bendle, who spent part of the season on loan with Corinthian Casuals, signed for the Dons in the summer under Mark Robinson and penned his professional contract with the club in January.
He started his first game for the Dons in the middle alongside Jack Rudoni and Luke McCormick. He managed 83 minutes on his debut before he was replaced by Ethan Chislett.
“I’m pleased for Alfie,” Bowen told the South London Press. “Firstly, he will never forget his debut, and he will probably never forget the emotions of that first half. He probably thought at half time: ‘Wow, what a baptism this is.’ But, again, he showed maturity in the second half.
“He will be a big player for this club – I am certain of that. Don’t forget that he has come into a situation where all his team-mates around him are probably lacking confidence.
“It’s much easier for a young player to come into an environment where players and playing well, and senior players are full of confidence, and they will protect him and look after him.
“There wasn’t a lot of that going on today, and yet he still went out there, did a job, and he can feel really proud and pleased with the way he performed today.”
PICTURE: KEITH GILLARD