Karl Robinson is looking forward to welcoming back injured trio Dean Bowditch, Daniel Powell and Tom Flanagan in the coming weeks, as all three players near a return to training.
Bowditch underwent surgery in the summer on a troublesome groin problem that had hampered him for large parts in 2012/13 while Daniel Powell and Tom Flanagan both sustained freak ankle injuries in innocuous training incidents.
The three players have yet to step foot on the pitch this season due to their respective injuries but they are all expected to return to training soon, much to the delight of boss Robinson.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday, the 32-year-old manager said: “Bowds is in light training with us today for the first time so we’ll know more about him soon. Powelly was also running outside yesterday so it’s all positive signs.
“Tom Flanagan’s back training with us again too, so we don’t feel like we’re too far away. They’ll all be like new signings and I’m looking forward to having them back.
“Daniel and Dean both got into double figures with goals last year and they both had double-figure assists too, we’ve obviously missed them. Last season, we had the same problem as one was in, then one was out and they were both injured during that bad run and that showed us how important they are.
“Danny’s done really well but he’ll only be here for a few more weeks. Jason Banton and Samir have stepped in for us and played well but they’ll have to fight to keep their places like Bowds and Powelly with have to fight to get back into the team.
Not only will Robinson have a selection headache in the wide areas once the two wingers return, he’ll also have a decision to make at right-back with both Lee Hodson and Jon Otsemobor battling it out to feature alongside Antony Kay, Shaun Williams and Dean Lewington in defence.
Hodson was ever present for the Dons in the League before he was called away on international duty with Northern Ireland but with Jon Otsemobor in his place, Robinson’s side have conceded just one goal.
Hodson plays for Northern Ireland this evening before returning to the Club in time for this weekend’s clash with Notts County, meaning the Dons’ longest serving manager will have a big call to make.
“If you saw Lee Hodson in that first 45 minutes for Northern Ireland against Portugal, he was marking Ronaldo, who couldn’t get a touch. Northern Ireland then had a man sent off, Ronaldo went up front and he scored three.
“But, Semy’s come in and helped keep a clean sheet against Northampton, a clean sheet from open play against Swindon. It’ll be a tough decision to make but it will be a great position to be in.”