The key talking points from Robbie Neilson's press conference ahead of MK Dons' Sky Bet League One clash with Bradford City...
While Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Shrewsbury Town was a positive one for the Dons, there was still some disappointment in the dressing room at the side’s performance - with many believing that they should have gone on to increase their lead further after a dominant first 15 minutes.
“Ultimately it’s about getting the three points but there has to be demands on everyone here that we shouldn’t be holding on after going 2-0 up,” Neilson told the media. “The way we started the game, we should have gone on and progressed and be totally out of sight.
“The players understand it –they came in after the game and they were a bit down about it. We played really well for 20 minutes and then took our foot off the gas. We can’t just do it for 20 minutes, we’ve got to do it for 90.”
Key goals from Kieran
Kieran Agard took his goal tally for the season to 12 with his fifth-minute finish in last weekend’s success at Stadium MK and Neilson was full of praise for his 27-year-old striker.
“He’s been doing really well – he’s been scoring goals for us, key goals as well.”
Neilson also felt that Agard benefited from playing alongside Chuks Aneke as part of a two-man frontline.
“Having Chuks up beside him helped – I think it helps him a lot having that support.”
Neilson preparing for a battle at Bradford
The first of two tough away matches this week sees the Dons visit Bradford City – a side who sit fifth in Sky Bet League One and are undefeated at the Northern Commercials Stadium this campaign.
Neilson is expecting a testing evening: “They are strong and they’ve got quality all over the pitch so we know it’s going to be a tough one.
“We know it’s going to be a real battle so it’s about scrapping and making sure we get a foothold in the game.”
Scottish duo to go head-to-head
Tonight’s clash will see Neilson come up against a fellow countryman in Stuart McCall – an ex-Scotland international who is enjoying an excellent second permanent spell in charge of the Bantams.
The Dons boss is looking forward to reuniting with the former Rangers and Motherwell boss: “I know Stuart well – I’ve played against him and I’ve coached against him a number of times as well, when he was at Rangers.
“He’s done a really good job and progressed the club.”
“We’ve still got a couple sitting on nine at the moment so we’re desperate to get to that cut off.
March 12th – that’s the cut-off point for suspensions being imposed for an accumulation of 10 yellow cards and it’s a date Neilson can’t wait to get to with defenders George Baldock and Dean Lewington both currently having nine bookings to their name.
Dons sweating over possible suspensions
“He’s got real quality but he was out for five and six weeks so we need to be careful how we deal with him.”
“It’s about building him up too. It was great to get him 65 minutes and we’ll look to get him more game time on Tuesday.
Similarly to Chuks, the Dons are taking a cautious approach with attacking midfielder Reeves, who made his aforementioned comeback from a groin problem in Saturday’s match with Shrewsbury.
Ben being built up
“Yes, he’s come back and played 10 or so games but we’re still keeping an eye on him and making sure we’re not pushing him too hard because he’s a key player.”
“We have to be careful with Chuks and we’re still managing him because he was out for a year.
Chuks Aneke may have been back in action for over three months but the Dons are still keeping an eye on the fitness of the forward, who is recovering from a year on the sidelines with a knee injury.
Dons still managing Chuks match-time
“Having these guys back is great because it gives us a chance to have options on the bench. I can turn round now and totally change the game.”
Neilson is pleased to have the majority of his squad available: “We’re getting them all back now and it’s just Scotty we’re waiting for.
Ed Upson is back in contention after serving a two-match suspension while Ben Reeves made it through his return to action unscathed.
Neilson confirmed that apart from ‘a couple of knocks and bruises’ and long-term absentee Scott Wootton, he has a full strength side to pick from heading into Tuesday’s trip to Bradford City.
Close to a clean bill of health