mkdons.com details the storylines to follow heading into the Sky Bet League One clash with Bury at Gigg Lane...
For the first time since the last week of December, the Dons will be looking to respond from a Sky Bet League One defeat on Tuesday evening.
Their six-match unbeaten run came to an end at the Kassam Stadium courtesy of a 1-0 defeat to Oxford United. It was also the first time in five games they’d failed to find the net, having scored 11 times in the previous four matches.
The Dons have taken 15 points this season in matches immediately following a league loss courtesy of four wins and three draws. There have been four back-to-back defeats too – something they’ll hope to avoid at Gigg Lane.
Defensive headache for Neilson
Joe Walsh picked up his 10th booking of the season in Saturday’s clash with Oxford, which means he will miss the Dons’ next two matches, including the trip to Bury on Tuesday night.
Walsh’s absence leaves a hole in a defence which has conceded just twice in the last three games and there is no obvious answer as to who will replace him in the line-up.
Dean Lewington and Scott Wootton remain sidelined due to injury, leaving Callum Brittain as the only available defender with a league appearance to his name this season. Brittain could slot in at left-back, which would allow the versatile George Williams to fill in at centre-back like he did on a couple of occasions at the start of January.
Ben Tilney, who has yet to make his league debut, could also deputise at the left full-back position while 18-year-old centre-back Oran Jackson is another option.
Loanee Stuart O’Keefe has featured in defence during his career too but with Darren Potter also suspended, he may be needed to replace the vice-captain in central midfield.
Stopping the in-form Vaughan
Whoever fills in the void at the heart of the defence will a difficult job on their hands against one of the EFL’s most in-form strikers in James Vaughan.
The 28-year-old, Sky Bet League One’s Player of the Month in January, has found the net eight times in his last five matches and his total of 18 has him tied for second in the division’s top-scorer list.
The key to Tuesday’s contest will be stopping the man who scored twice in the Shakers’ 3-1 success at Stadium MK earlier this season – Bury have only won two games when Vaughan has failed to score.
Who dons the armband?
With Dean Lewington and Darren Potter both unavailable, the Dons will have someone new taking on the role as captain this Tuesday evening.
They’ll be only the fourth player to don the armband in a league match since the 2011/12 campaign along with Lewington, Potter and former vice-captain Stephen Gleeson.