BASINGSTOKE’S Joe McDonnell is getting used to life as a professional footballer after earning a dream move to AFC Wimbledon.
The 20-year-old goalkeeper, a product of Basingstoke Town’s youth system, put pen to paper on a professional deal at the Cherry Red Records Stadium last week.
Wimbledon are not believed to have paid a transfer fee for McDonnell. However, Town have negotiated a sell-on clause with the Wombles, giving them a percentage of any future transfer, while the south London club have also agreed to visit the Camrose for a pre-season friendly next season.
McDonnell, a former pupil at Cranbourne Business and Enterprise College, has been Basingstoke’s reserve goalkeeper for the past two seasons, making 12 senior appearances. He impressed during a loan spell at Hendon earlier this year, before starring for Jason Bristow’s team towards the end of the campaign.
He had been training with Wimbledon, whose goalkeeping coach is former Town shot-stopper Ashley Bayes, last season – and the Wombles’ management were clearly impressed with what they saw of him.
McDonnell said: “I am delighted to have signed for a professional club. It’s been my aim for a long time and training every day, rather than just twice a week, should make me a better player.
“I will be playing for the under-21s but my ultimate goal is to be part of the first team squad and make an appearance as soon as possible.
“I am a bit sad to leave Basingstoke and will come down to watch them as much as I can. I would like to thank the chairman and the board of directors for allowing this to happen, and Jason and Michael Gilkes for helping me to develop.
“I would also like to thank the players and supporters of Basingstoke Town for being there for me during my time at the club.”
Town manager Bristow added: “I am delighted for Joe. I have known him for several years and watched him grow and develop into a good goalkeeper. Wimbledon can only make him a better player.
“Everyone at the club is delighted that he has got his move and it’s great for the academy. A couple of graduates are involved in the first team, and Joe has gone one step further by moving into the professional game.”