In recent weeks MK Dons have discovered how important it is to have strong competition in the goalkeeping department.
A neck injury to regular number one David Martin has allowed Ian McLoughlin the chance to shine between the sticks, and the former Republic of Ireland Under-21 international has done just that in the last three games.
And it is the man who works with both Martin and McLoughlin day in, day out, who boss Karl Robinson thought deserved a special mention.
“You’ve got to take your hat off to Paul Heald, who is a very good goalkeeping coach. He is somebody that deserves tremendous applause for the performances of both goalkeepers because Dave’s improvement over the last two years has been remarkable, he’s become a much better, all-round goalkeeper.
“Ian’s also played well when he’s been called upon. Obviously his loan spell at Walsall helped him and going away to play with Ireland Under-21s has also helped him but ultimately his goalkeeping training is what’s catapulted him to the level he’s been at in the last couple of games.”
An injury to Martin 10 days ago at Carlisle United meant McLoughlin was involved in his first League game for the Dons this season. Since then, he has also kept goal against Portsmouth and Preston North End.
During that time the Dons have extended their unbeaten run to four games and Robinson has been impressed with McLoughlin’s performances.
He added: “I think Ian has done really well since he has been called upon. He is still very young so I don’t want people getting too hyped up about him. It’s the first year he has played more than one competitive game for us.
“He is making good decisions, his kicking is getting better, his shot-stopping has always been decent and he’s good from crosses too. He gives us a bit more dominance aerially and maybe for the game tomorrow night it will be something that is needed.
“Dave’s our number one goalkeeper and he’s proved over the last two or three years that he is a wonderful asset to this Football Club but Ian’s now showing that he can provide a tremendous supporting role and maybe that’s why Dave keeps getting better because he’s training with Ian day in, day out. They’re improving together.”