MK Dons were without nine first-team players for Saturday’s clash with Bristol Rovers, including several new absentees, and boss Russell Martin explained the reason for those in his post-match press conference.
With Kieran Agard, Jay Bird, Jordan Houghton and Louis Thompson already sidelined due to injury, the Dons were forced to take to the pitch on Boxing Day without David Kasumu, Carlton Morris, Matthew Sorinola, Stephen Walker and George Williams too.
“David picked up an injury on Christmas eve in training and we're assessing that,” Martin said in his interview following the 2-0 win at Stadium MK. “We've not been able to find the full extent of it but we hope to find out soon.
“Matty was due to start but he reported a sore throat, so he had to leave and be tested. He lives with Ste Walker too, who has been ill but has been tested negative for Covid. He wasn't ready for this one.
“George Williams is isolating, not because he has it, but because has to do the 10 days under Track and Trace rules.
“With all the absentees, Charlie [Smith] was due to be on the bench but he then reported [Coronavirus] symptoms.”
Martin added: “I think a lot of clubs usually get injuries and illness at this time of year, and we obviously have to be really aware of the pandemic. Hopefully, though, a few will be back for Tuesday.”
One absentee who wasn’t injured, ill or isolating was on-loan striker Carlton Morris amid speculation regarding a move away from his parent club, Norwich City. Martin addressed his omission too.
“Carlton is in talks about a permanent move to a Championship club,” Martin revealed.
“Credit to him, he was willing to play today but I know what's at stake for him and his career. As much as I'd have loved to have played him, whether it was conscious or subconscious, I don't think he'd have been able to give everything.
“We'd have loved to sign him ourselves and I know he'd have loved to have stayed but with the salary cap, we just cannot compete with a Championship club - that's the brutal reality of it.
“Of course, if the move falls through, he will remain with us until the end of the season as planned but, if not, I'll go on record to thank him for his efforts over the last year on and off the pitch because he has been a big part of what we're doing.
“It will be a big loss for us, but it gives opportunities to others and they have to take it. We will also have to work hard to replace him in January.”