It has come as no surprise to AFC Wimbledon boss Neal Ardley that centre half Ryan Sweeney has taken to League Two action like a duck to water.

The 18-year-old got his chance to partner Paul Robinson when Karleigh Osborne’s season was ended by a knee injury.

Sweeney entered the fray against Luton Town where he scored the first goal of a comfortable 4-1 win, before going on to star in the 2-1 win at Barnet last weekend, and then Tuesday night’s 1-0 win over Carlisle United.

Dons fans have been asking if and when Ardley would be recruiting a more experienced centre back, and the boss admitted they have fallen short on that front.

However, with Sweeney high on confidence, and the Dons now fifth in the League Two, maybe that is not such a bad thing.

Ardley said: “We made strong enquiries over five players, we’ve tried to get them in and failed on all accounts.

“It is not because of money, it is because clubs do not want to let anyone out the building – they are all fighting for promotion, the play-offs or to avoid relegation and they are saying no, even though the players are not in their 18.”

He added: “We don’t want to bring a young player in when we have an outstanding prospect of our own.

“If I was a fan, and the manager brought in a young player ahead of someone we’re trying to turn into a footballer, I would not be happy.

“I’d be asking ‘Why are we developing a young player from another club when we can have our own?’”

Sweeney made his first team debut last season, and went on to make three appearances.

Since then, and up until Osborne’s injury, he has remained out of sight and out of mind, but that is not to say he has not been busy.

Ardley said: “To the media it is a surprise that Ryan has come in, played three games and done well, but to me it’s not.

“When Will [Nightingale] came in, I said to Erik [Samuelson] that he will be brilliant.

“Ryan is no different. He marks Tom [Elliott] and Lyle [Taylor] in training – and there is no better baptism than that, so when he comes up against the League Two guys he is ready.”

He added: “It helps having one of the league’s best centre backs in Paul Robinson alongside him, because the guy is a man mountain.”