MK Dons travel to Deepdale this Sunday to take on Preston North End in a match that will be broadcast live on Sky Sports.
With the top two tiers of English football out of action due to the international break, this weekend provides the opportunity to the Football League to shine and Sky have picked the ideal match-up to showcase lower League talent.
The Dons are unbeaten in six League fixtures and will be keen to keep that run going by beating a PNE side that currently lie in 8th place.
Graham Westley’s side come into this game on the back of a comfortable 4-2 victory over Morecambe in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in mid-week but the Lancashire club were beaten 3-1 by Oldham Athletic in their last League fixture.
Meetings between the two teams in the past have always been close and this Sunday’s is sure to be no different with both teams eager to keep up with the pack at the top of League 1.
Dons manager Karl Robinson went to watch this weekend’s opponents on Tuesday night and is fully aware of the tough task ahead.
Speaking before the game, he said: “I went to watch Preston in the JPT on Tuesday but we all know the enormity of the challenge and we know it’ll be very difficult. They only played two of the starting 11 that played in the League the past Saturday so it’s going to be really hard to predict their team because they’ve got so many players.
“It must be nice having the finances and budget to bring in all the players you want like Graham Westley has been able to do because obviously we can’t do that here.”
The Dons will be without defenders Gary MacKenzie and Antony Kay, who miss out through injury and suspension respectively.
MacKenzie will undergo surgery on a troublesome hip problem on Monday and has been ruled out for up to three months while Kay picked up his fifth booking of the season against Portsmouth last weekend and will subsequently serve a one-match ban.
Robinson has several other injury concerns heading into the game, but is keeping his cards close to his chest.
“Obviously we’re without Gary MacKenzie for a long period of time and Antony Kay’s suspended. It was gutting when we found out about Gary because we thought he’d be fit for Sunday and now we’re without him for a long period of time.
“We also picked up one or two knocks on Saturday which we’ll keep close to our chest but we may only be able to name five subs on the bench.”
Preston also have absentees in the form of Lee Holmes and Lee Trundle who remain long-term concerns but defender Shane Cansdell-Sheriff will be back in contention after suspension. One player who will no doubt play a part is former-Wycombe Wanderers striker Stuart Beavon, who has already netted three times for the Lilywhites having joined the Club on Deadline Day.
And Beavon, who scored 21 goals for Wycombe last season, is a player Dons boss Robinson admires and considers a major threat to his side on Sunday.
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