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Skipper Bennett to continue keeping Dons secure at the back
Alan Bennett will be marshalling the AFC Wimbledon defence for another season at least after triggering a year-extension clause in his contract.
The 32-year-old has made more than 23 League Two appearances for the Dons this season, meaning the former Irish international will not have to endure another summer of transfer uncertainty.
After a hideous summer move from Wycombe Wanderers to Cheltenham in 2011, where an injured Bennett almost ended up without a club, he admitted the security that comes with knowing his short-term future is a weight off his mind.
But while Bennett’s future is safe for now, he accepted there is a lot of hard work ahead to make it a successful one.
He said: “The games against Rochdale and Portsmouth ended without any points, but the contrast in emotions could not be more stark.
“We know the level of performance at Pompey is what we have to reach match in match out, we have to get more consistent.
“We have open and honest discussions after bad performances and although more bad performances will follow, is not a case that it is not working - you just have to keep reinforcing the message to the younger players.”
Big boots to fill: Alan Bennett believes that if Michael Smith had stayed a Don, he would have ended the season's as the league's top goal-scorer
He added: “But there is no denying the stats and Michael Smith was our main source of goals, and that is a big hole to fill.
“I told Michael that if he stayed he would be the League Two top scorer because he was improving all the time. Replacing those goals in difficult, but we all need to get into that.
“And then when Charlie [Wyke] and Danny [Hylton] come in, it’s two new lads, it’s a new partnership. As of January you’re starting again and it takes time.”
Bennett had endured a stop-start season but the skipper reached the 23-match mile-stone in the win over Hartlepool.
Despite the security offered by the contract extension, Bennett is the first to acknowledge this season has not been his best.
“I would say it’s a seven out of 10, so there is room for improvement. I feel like it has been disjointed rhythm wise,” he said.
Staying around: Alan Bennett
“I have not missed out for a long period, but its injury, couple of games out, back for a couple of games, then an injury. I think I have missed five games in total.”
He added: “Knowing there is another season at Dons is a relief and a weight off my shoulders.
“It is very difficult not knowing where you’re going to be. Sometimes you don’t know if you’re going to get away on holiday, if your contract finishes in June you have to hang around.
“I had one summer of it when I left Wycombe and it was horrible. I did not sign for Cheltenham until the beginning of July, which is pretty much the first day of pre-season.
“It’s a very uncertain and disheartening time when you’re basically pimping yourself about.”