Read the full interview with Lee Nicholls which featured in last weekend’s edition of Red Dot.
First of all Lee, how would you assess the 2019/20 season so far for MK Dons?
“I don’t think we’ve really clicked yet. We have got a talented team here, with depth and quality players who could be playing at a higher level, but now it’s about being more consistent with our good play, being more ruthless and being more demanding of each other. We just need to keep working hard and start taking our opportunities when they come along and stop giving opportunities away. We know we can do it.”
How important would it be to bounce back from successive league defeats by picking up three points this afternoon?
“It would be massive. It’s been a tough few weeks in the league but we’ve quickly got back on it and continued working hard on the training pitch. We now just need to do what we need to do to get three points on the board.”
This is an ideal game to have, isn’t it?
“Yeah, it’s a massive game. It means a lot to the fans and these are good games to play in. We played them a few weeks ago and we saw that they are a good team - it finished 2-2 and it could have gone either way. We’ll be coming in on Saturday and doing everything we can to get the three points.”
You mentioned how much this match means to the supporters - how good would it be to give them a victory to celebrate today, especially after the recent results?
“It would be good. It would hopefully get them back on our side after the last two performances in the league which haven’t been good enough. It’s a great game for us to turn things around in and now it’s up to us to put in a performance and, hopefully, send them home happy.”
Just how important are the supporters going to be here this season?
“The fans are massive. You could see the difference they made against Mansfield Town last year with the atmosphere they created. It was the same again here against Lincoln City this season. They were behind us until the end and they never stopped cheering us on. I’m pleased we were able to reward them on the day.”
With there being an earlier kick-off time today, how much does that affect your preparation?
“I’ve played at this time once before. I remember it being a bit strange waking up and eating chicken right away. I’m sure some boys will have their own routines - some may want to get up early and have breakfast before a pre-match meal. I’ll be having chicken for breakfast, though!”
Does having the Sky Sports cameras here have an impact?
“To be honest, I don’t really notice them. It will be just like another game. Earlier in my career it might have affected me a little bit but nowadays it is just another match.”
On a personal level, how would you assess your season so far?
“I can’t exactly say I’m over the moon, because I’ve only kept one clean sheet and I’d have liked to have kept a few more by this stage. It’s football and sometimes things go against you. Performance-wise, I’m quite happy with how I’ve played but there are still plenty of things that I need to improve on and the same goes for the team as well.”
You are one of the longest-serving players in the dressing room, having joined back in August 2016. How much are you enjoying your time with MK Dons?
“I love it here. I came in back in 2016 when Karl Robinson was the manager and I was welcomed right away. I used to just travel in from Liverpool with Pottsy (Darren Potter) and Nicky (Maynard) but I soon decided to move down. Everything’s fallen into place for me here and I’m settled. I don’t even think about living up north anymore. My career is here, my heads here and I’m made up with that.”
When you arrived at the Club, you played alongside David Martin who made a dream move to West Ham United in the summer. You must have been delighted for him?
“I’m made-up for him. Dave was one of the ones who welcomed me in with open arms when I signed. He’s a top keeper and he deserves a chance at that level once again. I don’t wish injury on anybody but I would love for him to get a shot at playing in the Premier League.”
The goalkeeper unit has added a member this season following the arrival of Laurie Walker on a permanent basis - how are you enjoying working with Laurie, Stuart Moore and Mel Gwinnett?
“First of all, I’m made up for Laurie. He’s worked hard to get this opportunity and since he’s come in, he’s been different class. With Stu, he works hard and whenever he’s been called upon he’s been mentally and physically ready. He’s done well in the games he’s played - I thought he was Man of the Match against Southend United. He’s putting a lot of pressure on me, which is only good for us both and, most importantly, for the team. Long may it continue!”
We can’t go without mentioning the Carabao Cup tie with Liverpool, especially given that it’s your home town. What was your reaction when we were paired together in the draw?
“I was made up. As soon as our name was pulled out, I had a feeling something big was going to happen and I was over the moon that it was Liverpool. There is a real buzz around the place. I have an opportunity to be selected for it and hopefully, I can do enough to get the nod and play against them. That said, as a footballer, we’ve got to put that to one side and we can’t let it affect our performances in training and in the matches coming up. We’ll come back to it as a later date.”