Milton Keynes Dons will begin their competitive campaign when they travel to The Abbey Business Stadium to face Cheltenham Town this Saturday.
In the First Round of the newly named Capital One Cup, Karl Robinson’s side will be hoping to get off to a flying start with the npower League One season beginning seven days later.
The Robins have played one more game than the Dons in pre-season, losing to Championship clubs Ipswich Town and Burnley before toppling Birmingham City in between clashes with non-league sides including Evesham United and Port Talbot Town. Mark Yates’ team have scored five and conceded eleven, but they will also be keen to impress having finished the 2011/12 season as runners-up in the League 2 play-off final.
The two clubs met in the same round of the same competition last year with the Dons running out 4-1 victors on the night thanks to goals from Sam Baldock, Jabo Ibehre, Dean Lewington and Angelo Balanta.
Similar to the Dons, Town have brought in a few new faces namely Chris Zebroski, Shaun Harrard and Sam Deering who will all be pushing for a start come 3pm on Saturday. Striker Jeff Goulding is the only real injury concern for the Gloucestershire side while manager Yates is still hopeful of making a couple more additions prior to the fixture.
Dons boss Karl Robinson is fully aware of the challenge his squad face but remains confident that they will come out on top and pick up a valuable win before the League One opener with Oldham Athletic on 18th.
Speaking to mkdons.com he said: “We went there last year very fresh whereas this time we’ll be going there a little bit fatigued and tired but that is our objective.
“Still, the players will give 100 percent as they always do but we will be keeping an eye on next Saturday against Oldham, which is our main concern.
“We’ll conduct ourselves in the right manner and the outcome will hopefully be a victory for us.”
A lot has been made about the scheduling of the fixture with it taking place a week before the League season starts but the Dons’ longest serving manager feels it is the perfect way to begin the campaign.
“I don’t know what other managers think but I believe it’s the perfect way to start.
“It’s a competitive game but not as nitty gritty as the League which gives us a perfect type of test before the season starts. The organisers of this deserve a pat on the back and I think it’s something that should be looked at for forthcoming years as well.”
Jon Otsemobor, Jabo Ibehre, Daniel Powell and Mathias Kouo-Doumbe were rested for the clash with Fulham on Tuesday and the Dons manager and his staff will continue to monitor the four individuals before deciding whether or not they’ll take part.
However, with the majority of his squad fighting fit and ready to go, Robinson cannot wait to get going.
“I just can’t wait. I’m like a kid at Christmas again, I’m so excited and all the lads are exactly the same.
“Alex Rae told me of a motto that Glasgow Rangers have and I want to use it for us – ‘ready’. That’s what we are, ready for anybody who wants to come and challenge us.”