mkdons.com details the storylines to follow heading into Saturday’s Sky Bet League One clash with Blackpool...
Build on opening win...
MK Dons picked up their first victory of the 2017/18 season in Tuesday’s Carabao Cup tie with Forest Green Rovers. Now the aim for Robbie Neilson’s side will be to build on the success and register their opening league win at Blackpool this weekend.
“The win will put us in good stead,” said Tuesday’s match-winner Gboly Ariyibi after the extra-time triumph.
“The main thing for us after Saturday was to come here (and get the win). Hopefully that will give us a lift going into Blackpool on Saturday.”
Extra-time to have an effect?
The Dons were forced into extra-time on Tuesday and not only did that mean an additional 30 minutes for the majority of Neilson’s squad but also a very late night for the players and staff.
With one of the longest away trips of the season coming up this weekend, will logistics have an impact on the team?
“Fitness-wise (extra-time) it's great for them but we’ve got a game on Saturday and I don’t think we’ll feel the benefits of it until after Saturday,” Neilson told the media on Tuesday.
“It’s going to be a tough one for us but we’ll go to Blackpool as fresh as we can and ready to go – hopefully we can start getting the points on the board in the league.”
More to come from Dons...
The Dons played out a competitive match against Wigan Athletic on opening day and managed a testing cup tie at Forest Green Rovers on Tuesday but the feeling inside the Dons camp is that there’s plenty more to come from the squad.
“There’s definitely a lot more to come,” commented Ariyibi. “We’re still a young squad and we’re still gelling together but once that happens then I’m sure we’ll have a good chance this season.”
Will they take an extra step towards reaching their peak on Saturday?
Defensive reinforcements on their way...
The Dons will receive a defensive boost on Saturday with centre-backs Joe Walsh and Scott Wootton available for selection once again.
Walsh missed the first two games of the season due to a suspension he received at the end of the 2016/17 campaign, while Wootton served a one-match ban after his dismissal in the opening day clash with Wigan.
However, that’s not to say the two players will walk straight back into the starting XI especially after Paul Downing’s stand-out performance at Forest Green on Tuesday and Ethan Ebanks-Landell’s impressive start to life with the Dons.
“We had (Joe) Walsh and (Scott) Wootton who were out today but Paul came in and did well,” Neilson said of Downing’s display. “We’ve got a bit of strength in depth there.”
Blackpool, it’s been a while...
Saturday sees the Dons make their first visit to Bloomfield Road since September 2005.
Although the two clubs have met six times before, only two previous matches have taken place on the Fylde coast including the aforementioned fixture during the 2005/06 season.
That afternoon, Danny Wilson’s side twice fought back from a goal down but were eventually beaten 3-2 by the Tangerines. Nicky Rizzo and Wade Small were the scorers for the Dons, whose squad, of course, including Dean Lewington – the only remaining player in either line-up.
An interesting titbit from the line-ups – Sunderland manager Simon Grayson was in the Blackpool starting XI that day.