mkdons.com details the storylines to follow heading into this weekend’s Sky Bet League Two clash with Bury at The Energy Check Stadium at Gigg Lane...
Third versus second
The clash at Gigg Lane is arguably the standout fixture in the EFL this weekend, with third-placed Bury hosting second-placed MK Dons.
Paul Tisdale’s side go into the weekend one point ahead of their opponents in the Sky Bet League Two table and with two games in hand on the Greater Manchester outfit.
With just four points separating fourth from eighth in League Two, both teams will be gunning for maximum honours in order to maintain their place in the top three.
Battle of the best home teams
This weekend sees the division’s best two home teams go head-to-head - the only problem for MK Dons is that they are the side on the road!
Both the Dons and Bury have earned 30 points on their own patch this season, with the Shakers just edging the men from MK1 on goal difference.
Ryan Lowe’s side have won nine of their 13 games at The Energy Check Stadium, including six of their last eight, while losing just once. They have scored a league-high 31 goals and conceded just 10 times.
They will certainly provide a stern test for Tisdale & Co, who boast the eighth-best away record in Sky Bet League Two but are without a win on the road in the three league games since that 4-0 thrashing of Crawley Town in November.
Dons looking to stop former Dons
If MK Dons are to have success at the weekend they will likely have to stop the threat of two in-form ex-Dons players who head up Bury’s attack.
Nicky Maynard and Jay O’Shea, under the guidance of former Dons striker Ryan Lowe, have combined for 21 goals this term - Maynard netting 11 times and midfielder O’Shea on target on 10 occasions.
While the duo aren’t Bury’s only threats, the Dons would do well to keep the pair quiet - in games where both Maynard and O’Shea have failed to find the target, the Shakers have lost four times, drawn once and won once.
Paul Tisdale noted in his post-match press conference on New Year’s Day that he was hoping that several of his injured players would return to action this month and he could be boosted by the 'cavalry' for this weekend’s trip to Greater Manchester.
Osman Sow, Mathieu Baudry and Ryan Harley all played for the Under-23s in mid-week - the latter making his first appearance since August - while Jordan Moore-Taylor, who has been on the bench for the last two matches, has had an extra week to work on his fitness.
Joe Walsh and Callum Brittain are the other two players that Tisdale will be monitoring and the Dons boss could provide an update on their condition when he meets with the media on Thursday afternoon.
Who replaces Healey?
MK Dons confirmed last week that Rhys Healey has returned to Cardiff City following the expiry of his loan deal and while Tisdale has made no secret of his desire to retain the striker’s services for the remainder of the season, he may have to do without the 24-year-old this Saturday.
So, who replaces him? Fortunately, for Tisdale he has options.
Lawson D’Ath featured in place of Healey earlier in the season while Osman Sow will be pushing for a start after he impressed in his cameo off the bench in the New Year’s Day win over Cambridge United.
Other alternatives at Tis' disposal include Robbie Simpson Ryan Watson, Peter Pawlett and, perhaps, Ryan Harley or the recently-returned Sam Nombe.
Any new arrivals?
The January Transfer Window is open, allowing clubs in England one month to strengthen their sides ahead of the run-in.
Paul Tisdale has spoken to the media just once since the window opened but will host a press conference on Thursday where he is likely to be asked about his recruitment plans and the possibility of any arrivals before this weekend’s game.
That press conference takes place at approximately 2pm on Thursday - quotes and videos will be available on Twitter and mkdons.com shortly afterwards.
Tickets for Saturday's clash with Bury can only be purchased through the Shakers, either online, by phone or at the turnstiles on the day of the game.
Tickets are priced at £20 adults, £14 supporters with a disability/under-23s, 65s and over, £10 under-18s, £7 under-16s and £5 under-12s while under-5s go FREE. Tickets bought online or by phone will be subject to a booking fee but tickets bought on the day of the game will not be.
To book tickets in advance through Bury click HERE or call 0161 764 4881. Tickets can also be bought from the turnstiles on the day of the game at the Energy Check Stadium at Gigg Lane.