Manager Karl Robinson is hoping the recent return of midfielder Luke Chadwick will help inspire the team as they look to re-ignite their promotion push.
The Dons have stuttered since the turn of the year and currently sit 12 points adrift of a play-off spot – albeit with games in hand on most teams around them.
The goalless draw away at Doncaster Rovers last Tuesday was the first time in three matches Robinson’s men had avoided defeat in the League, which unsurprisingly coincided with the return of Chadwick, who started for the first time in over a month at the Keepmoat Stadium.
The Dons’ Liverpudlian manager, whose side now prepare to travel 265 miles north to take on Carlisle United this Saturday, told the local media earlier this week that he is delighted to have the former Manchester United man back in his squad, describing the 32-year-old as a ‘tremendous role model’.
Robinson said: “Luke Chadwick captures everything I love about football.
“He’s graceful, he’s classy, he cares and he’s a tremendous role model for young footballers in Milton Keynes. He keeps himself to himself off the pitch but he works as hard as anyone and he loves being at this Football Club.
“He’s a wonderful person to have around the place and having him back definitely makes me sleep a lot easier at night.”
This weekend’s date with the Cumbrians is set to be another tricky test for the men from MK1, who have only once walked away from Brunton Park with three points. That win came last season courtesy of goals from Charlie MacDonald, Dean Bowditch and Dean Bowditch and a repeat of that scoreline on Saturday would no doubt offer a timely boost to the Dons’ promotion push.
And with 17 games still left to play, the youngest manager in the Football League is refusing to give up hope of achieving promotion success this campaign.
“I’m really going to roll my sleeves up now and whatever happens for the rest of the season, I know it will make me a better manager and it will certainly make everybody in the Football Club better people.
“I do think we should be doing better than we are and I think we’ve underachieved this year, so far, and so we will take the criticism that comes with that.
“But it’s still not over and it’s still not over by a long way. I’m ready for the next 16 to 17 games and I guarantee that if I’m ready, the players will be ready too.
“I’d take a play-off place now, if I was being honest. I’m still refusing to give up on automatic promotion, but I’m also being realistic and so I would take a play-off place.
“The team’s in a good place at the moment, though, and it’s now time to re-ignite our season and see where that takes us.”