Manager Karl Robinson has stressed the importance of tomorrow afternoon’s FA Cup with Budweiser Second Round Proper clash with Dover Athletic.
The Dons come into this weekend’s tie with The Whites having lost their last three games; a run which has seen the side fall behind in the Sky Bet League 1 play-off race.
This Saturday, though, the Dons turn their attention turns to progressing through to the Third Round Proper of the country’s most prestigious Cup competition and although Robinson is expecting a tough afternoon, he is confident his side will come out on top.
Speaking earlier today, the 33-year-old manager said: “A win is needed for us all; staff, players, fans. Nobody has come out and defended our run; we’ve been quite honest both internally and publicly. I think the players deserve some respect for that.
“It’s a game that we want to win and it’s a game that we feel we can win if we play to our best, however, as I’ve said that a number of times, it hasn’t always been as easy as that.
“(Dover Athletic) have lost one in 14 and they’ve got some good players in their group. We know they’ll come here and fight for every ball and they’ll perform to their best of their ability so it’s going to be a difficult afternoon.
“The group though, is full of energy, of enthusiasm and excitement. They’ve been away for a few days and so they are all refreshed and they’re all now looking forward to the game.”
If the Dons are to secure a place in Sunday’s Third Round draw, they’ll have to do it without a host of key names through both injuries and ineligibility.
Antony Kay (hip), Dean Bowditch (hip) and Luke Chadwick (foot) will miss out through their respective injury problems while duo Dele Alli and Daniel Powell have emerged as doubts due to knocks.
Darren Potter will, too, be sidelined because of suspension and Samir Carruthers and Dale Jennings haven’t received clearance to play by their parent clubs, although the Dons are hopeful the former might be able to feature.
Still, Robinson believes he has enough at his disposal to overpower Saturday’s Skrill Conference South opponents. He added: “We’re down to the bare bones again but that’s part of the way it’s been this way. We just have to get our head down and get on with it.
“Hopefully if (David Martin) can get through training today he’ll be able to play tomorrow. We’re still going to be without Antony Kay, Dean Bowditch, Darren Potter, Luke Chadwick and Dale Jennings, maybe even Dele.
“Powelly also rolled his ankle in training yesterday but we’re hoping it’s not as severe as it was before. We’ll have to wait and see how that one is but he’s walking fine on it so we’re hoping it’s just a slight twinge.
“I’ve not got a choice but to play some young players, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it gives them an opportunity. Hopefully, though, we’ll still be able to field a team that is competitive.
“We’re looking to keep the back four the same, Stephen will play and there’s maybe even a chance Smithy comes in and starts. Jason Banton will also get another opportunity and Reevesy will play behind Patrick because those two looked really lively the other day.”