The key talking points from Robbie Neilson's press conference ahead of the Sky Bet League One fixture with Bolton Wanderers...
Robbie Neilson answered questions about the January transfer window in Thursday’s press conference and the Scotsman reaffirmed his stance that the Dons improved during the month.
“We’ve brought in real quality and we’ve kept the players we wanted to keep. I think it’s a better looking squad than we did at the start of the window so I’m pleased.”
Maecky and Stuart bring variety to the squad
Maecky Ngombo and Stuart O’Keefe were the Dons’ final two signings of the window and the boss is confident both players will add different elements to the attack and midfield respectively.
“(Maecky) will bring something different to our attacking line. He’s unpredictable, strong, quick and he commits people - he makes things happen.
“Stuart brings a wealth of experience for a relatively young player. He’s desperate to play football and he’s the type of player who I want here.”
Dons still looking to reinforce backline
As Neilson alluded to in his interview with MK Dons PlayerHD on Deadline Day, the Dons are still on the lookout for a defender - with the free-agent market their only option with no emergency loan window.
“The defence is doing well but we could still do with some cover so we’re actively looking at players who are available on a free. There are players out there and it’s now a case of getting someone in on a trial and having a look at them.”
Retaining key players crucial
One of the main successes from Deadline Day was that the Dons made it passed the deadline without losing any of their key players.
“We’re trying to build a squad here that can get to the Championship and progress in the Championship as well, so it’s important we keep hold our key players.
“I had conversations with the Chairman about it and he was as desperate to keep hold of them as I was - it’s just really pleasing that we’ve managed to keep hold of them.”
“We’re hoping to keep him going as long as we can but there will be a little plateau because he has been out for so long. It’s important we manage that correctly, whether that’s taking him out of the team and giving him a little bit of rest to go again.”
“With all players who have been out for so long, they’ll have a period where they feel fresh and adrenaline gives them a boost but then they start to fatigue a little bit.
That said, the Dons boss did imply that he may have to manage Aneke’s workload and playing time moving forward, in order to prevent the 23-year-old burning out.
“He’s obviously been out for a long time but you can see the quality he’s got. I still think there’s quite a bit to go too.”
Chuks Aneke has been in scintillating form since his fitness levels have improved to near 100 percent but Neilson still believes there’s more to come from his talented forward - an exciting prospect, indeed!
More to come from Chuks
“We’ve got a run of five or six games coming up that will define where we’re going to end up at the end of the season - whether that’s mid-table and we can start planning for next year or we are in a position to have a right push for getting promotion.”
Four of those fixtures, including Saturday’s encounter with the Trotters, will be against teams above them in the Sky Bet League One and therefore Neilson is viewing the next handful of tests as defining ones for his side.
MK Dons kick-off a busy stretch of games this weekend against Bolton - the first of seven matches they’ll play throughout the month of February.
Defining stretch for Dons