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Fixture News

Neilson: Fitness levels rising

MK Dons boss reflects on Wednesday's pre-season friendly with Szeged 2011...

13 July 2017

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Several members of Robbie Neilson’s MK Dons squad took a big step towards full match fitness on Wednesday by playing 90 minutes in the side’s first Hungary-based friendly.

Paul Downing, Joe Walsh, Conor McGrandles, Ed Upson, Giorgio Rasulo and Kieran Agard were among those who played the entirety of the friendly against Szeged 2011 - the first full-match run-outs for the majority of them since April.

“I was pleased with the workout,” Neilson told iFollow MK Dons after Wednesday’s match. “We’ve had a tough few days and today was just about getting the fitness levels up and I thought we did that.

“You’re never pleased to get beat but this is just about getting the fitness levels to 100% and avoiding any injuries and we’ve managed to do that.

“It was a really hot day and for some of them to play 90 minutes is a real tough ask but it was important they’ve got that under their belts. That was the first 90 minutes for some players in 10 to 12 weeks but the work-rate was fantastic.”

Here’s what else Neilson had to say on Wednesday…

Quality to come…
“The most important thing for us is the result in the first game of the season - not the result we have today. The quality is still coming up. Our decision-making and our final pass wasn’t quite there but that will come. The fitness levels are really getting there and once we do get there then the quality will start coming through. The standard of our play will start going up as we go along and I think the teams we’ve picked for the friendlies reflects that. It’s progressing as we go along and the hope is our fitness levels and our quality progresses with it as well.”

Scott Wootton’s comeback…
“I was delighted to get him back. He’s been a huge character in the dressing room since I’ve been here and his work-rate has been commendable. To get him out on the pitch, doing what he loves doing, was a big moment - not just for him but for the club as well because he’s going to be a top player for us. It’s a huge hurdle for him to get over. It’s going to take him a bit of time to fully get going but he’s been looking better and better in training every day and he’ll look better and better every game he plays.”

First minutes for the goalkeepers…
“It was good to get Wieger some game-time with us - I thought he did well. Lee’s had a bit of an issue with his back but it’s important we get him some game-time ahead of that first match of the season.”

Reaffirming stance on recruitment…
“We’re still aiming really high and we’re getting closer and closer. I’d love to stand here and say we’ve got them over the line right now but we’re working extremely hard towards that. As I’ve said all along, the most important thing is we bring in good players. I don’t want to fold early doors and just accept mediocrity. We’re really going after it this year to make sure we get the quality in.”

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