Russell Martin was able to give the majority of his MK Dons squad a chance to impress over the last two matches, which gives the boss food for thought ahead of Saturday’s crucial Sky Bet League One clash with Bolton Wanderers this weekend.
Martin made eight changes to his side for Tuesday’s Leasing.com Trophy tie with Wycombe Wanderers, providing opportunities for those who didn’t feature against Port Vale to stake a claim for a starting berth.
“Tonight was about trying something else and looking at the players I haven't seen yet,” Martin said in his post-match press conference.
“It would have been nice to win one, of course, but the focus has always been Saturday. I could have done unchanged tonight, but it was about seeing other people and letting them stake a claim.
“The lads have now all had a chance to play and get themselves into the team and now it's over to me now to go out and pick a team to win on Saturday. I've got a decision to make.”
Despite taking the lead through a stunning Brennan Dickenson free-kick, and dominating in terms of possession and shots on target, the Dons were beaten 2-1 by the Chairboys at Stadium MK.
Martin, though, saw more progress from his side, as well as things to improve upon. He told the media: “It's a work in progress.
“We scored first, for the first time in a long time. We created some good chances after that and, on another night, we score some more of those.
“There were some good individual performances and players who hadn't played for a while got 90 minutes.
“I was disappointed in the way we defended in our box. We looked at the way they scored a lot of their goals, and a lot of them are second ball and playing off second phases.
“We also weren't brave enough in the second half. First half, we played well and pressed well, you couldn't fault them, but in the second half we didn't move well enough.
“I want them to be braver, have more courage to play in possession, pass and move. As I said, it’s a work in progress, it won't happen over night.”
Next up for MK Dons is Saturday's Sky Bet League One clash with Bolton Wanderers at the University of Bolton Stadium.
Tickets are priced at £20 adults, £12 seniors/under-23s and £10 under-18s, while Official Away Travel is priced at £22 Season Ticket holders and £23 all other supporters.
To book tickets/travel click HERE, visit the Box Office at Stadium MK or call 0333 200 5343.