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What we learnt: Robbie’s presser

26 January 2017

Here are the key talking points from Robbie Neilson’s Thursday press conference...

Martin and Bowditch good to go, uncertainty over Reeves
Neilson revealed that both David Martin and Dean Bowditch would be available for Saturday’s game at the ABAX Stadium.

Martin was forced off with an illness midway through the second against Northampton Town but has recovered. Bowditch, meanwhile, has returned to full training after a spell on the sidelines with a calf injury.

However, Ben Reeves is ‘touch and go’ as the midfielder deals with a groin problem that kept him out of the 5-3 win over the Cobblers.

Being more solid from set-pieces
All three of Northampton’s goals in last weekend’s victory came from set-pieces, which prompted a question as to how the Dons can improve on that aspect of their game.

Neilson recognised the issue, responding: “There are little details that we can improve on.

“We don’t have huge physicality in the team so when players put it on the money, it can be very difficult to stop but we need get better at taking more responsibility and doing our jobs.”

Formation specific to each opponent
Neilson has used a variety of formations since arriving at Stadium MK and it seems supporters can expect more of the same moving forward.

“We have a style of play that we want to play, which is attacking with energy but which formation that is in depends on who we're playing and who is available,” he told the media.

“It's important the players know how to play three or four different formations and are comfortable doing that.”

That said, Neilson did point out that he feels too much is made of formations and that there isn’t a huge difference between each style.

“There's not a huge difference when you change formation,” he said. “The biggest change was going from four at the back to three on Saturday but even then we slide a little bit so we can go to a four if we need to."



“We’ve got a tough run coming up with a lot of games to be played so if we can build momentum then we can pick up a lot of points.”

“In this league, if you can win two, three or four on the bounce, it can catapult you right up the league and it’s really important we look to do that.

This weekend’s game provides the Dons with an opportunity to record back-to-back league victories for only the second time this season – something Neilson is eager to accomplish.
Striving for consistency

“They’re a good club, who have done really well recently, and it’s going to be a tough game but it’s been a while since we’ve won down there so it’s important we go and try to pick up three points.”

“It’s something we’ve spoken about. I know the history and I know that we’ve played each other a number of times.

The Scot, though, has caught up to speed with the history and is fully aware of how important the game is to the supporters.

Saturday will be Neilson’s first taste of the Dons-Peterborough United rivalry, which stretches back to the 2004/05 season when the two clubs were fighting to remain in the third tier.
Robbie aware of rivalry

The bigger clubs also don’t really want to let their players out nowadays and are keeping them in house to develop in the Under-23s league.”

“Nobody wants to give up too many players – they’ve rather have too many and deal with that than have too few and get caught out.

“Up in the Scotland the emergency loan system has been gone for a long time but down here, it’s the first season we’ve had it so nobody is really sure what to do.

“This year, a lot of clubs are keeping hold of their players because of the stopping of the emergency loans. .

While it’s nothing new for Neilson, who worked under similar restrictions during his time in Scotland, he does believe it’s taking time for clubs in England to adjust to the new parameters.

This season saw a new rule introduced which prevented EFL clubs from signing players on loan outside the transfer window, which is unlike previous campaigns where teams could sign players on short-term emergency deals.
EFL clubs adapting to life without emergency loans

“There was interest early on for a couple of them but there’s been nothing since.”

There had been a lot of talk at the start of the window regarding interest from opposing clubs in a few of Neilson’s players but the boss also added that things have gone quiet on that front.

“It’s got to be the right one –it’s got to be someone who can push the other players and potentially be a starter.”

“We’d made enquiries about a few and not managed to get them but we’re going to keep working and see what’s out there.

“I’m pleased (with the attacking options) but I’d probably liked to add one more if it’s the right one.

One area of the team that Neilson was asked about was up-front and the 36-year-old didn’t rule out adding another forward player.

“The last couple of days will be vital and it’s important we’re prepared and aware of who exactly we want to go get – who the next ones are after that and after that again.”

“As we move closer to the deadline, I expect people will start moving and start moving quickly.

“It’s been really quiet everywhere – two or three players here and there but nothing that’s really got the market moving again.

“I’d like to add it, I’ll only add if I think it’s a player who will make us a better team because I’m happy with the squad.

“We’re still working away,” he answered. “We had a good meeting (on Wednesday) for three-and-a-half hours, going over all the targets and re-assessing where we are.

With less than a week until the close of January transfer window, Neilson hopes to add to the signings of Robbie Muirhead and Harvey Barnes by bringing in more reinforcements to his group.
‘Important week’

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