Rhys, only one place to start – your winning penalty against Rochdale. Was that your favourite moment in an MK Dons shirt to date?
“Yeah, definitely! There aren’t too many games left in this season and with the position we’re in, it was a big game for us and I know I need to deliver in games like that. It was disappointing not to score before the penalty, with the chances that I had so I was desperate to put it right. I’m glad I had the opportunity to do so. As a striker, I’ll always back myself in those situations. It got us the three points and that’s what matters.”
You have eight goals to your name in 15 appearances this season, which is a goal every other game. Are you somebody that looks at the stats and uses them as motivation?
“I do look my stats, yeah. I’d be surprised if there is a striker out there who doesn’t, to be fair. I’m one in two at the moment but I want to get to one in one. I want to score as many goals as possible, because that will only help the team at the end of the day.”
On a personal level, how would you reflect on your season so far?
“In terms of what I’ve done on the pitch, I think it’s been good. I’ve been scoring goals despite not playing as well as I can. I think I’m still chasing that final bit of match sharpness having been out for four months. There is definitely more to come. I’m my biggest critic because I know what I’m capable of – not just in terms of scoring goals but my all-round play. Having that injury at the start of the season has taken its toll on me a bit but I’m getting close to full fitness and I hope that will see me up my game even more.”
How frustrating was it to suffer that injury back in September, especially after starting the year in such good form?
“It was one of the worst things to happen! I’d just signed back here and it was a bit of a freak injury as well. I’ve been there before and I knew I’d be able to get myself back. I’ve done that now and what matters is looking forward and helping the team out as much as I can.”
Are you enjoying playing in this Russell Martin team, with the style of football he has implemented?
“I’m really enjoying it. It’s the best football we’ve played during my time here at the MK Dons. Russ hasn’t been in charge long but the boys have really taken to it and you can see that on the pitch. It’s only going to get better with the more we play and the more we get to work on it on the training pitch.”
You had a fantastic loan spell here during the first half of the 2018/19 season. How eager were you to come back to MK Dons this summer?
“I wanted to stay here last season because I felt at home here at MK Dons. Coming back here to score goals and help the team out was something that I really wanted to. I’m back now and I’m an MK Dons player. I’m settled and I’m happy. I love being around the stadium and training with the team. That’s all you can ask for as a player.”
The MK Dons supporters have not stopped singing your name since your arrival here on loan last term. What does it mean to have their backing?
“As a player, it’s great to have the fans on your side. They are our 12th man and all we want to do is repay their support by picking up points. It was great to be able to score that penalty on Tuesday night and send them home happy.”
After returning to Cardiff City last term, you had the opportunity to play in the Premier League. What was that experience like?
“It was a good experience. You watch Premier League football on Match of the Day and stuff but until you’re out there, you don’t realise how good the standard is and how quick the pace of it is. I had the chance to play a few minutes at that level and for me, personally, that’s one of my best achievements so far.”
You had quite the journey prior to joining Cardiff City as a young player. Can you talk us through your start to life as a footballer?
“Yeah, I’ve had quite an interesting journey. I grew up in North Manchester as a young lad, playing local football on Saturdays and Sundays. When I was nine, I joined Manchester City and was there for a year or two before signing for Rochdale at 13. I then moved to Wales and had a period out of football. I managed to find a club in Connah’s Quay Nomads and they helped me move into the professional environment. From there, I signed for Cardiff City. If I look back, my journey has helped to shape me and make me who I am.”
Your spell at Connah’s Quay Nomads saw you play men’s football at quite a young age. How much have you benefited from that experience?
“It helped me a lot. A lot of my teammates there were 35-year-old ex-professionals while I was 15, just starting out. My advice to all young scholars and players is to get out and gain some experience in senior football. I still follow Connah’s Quay Nomads and I still speak to their Academy director. They are a lot better now than when I was there! I’m proud to say that I’ve come from there as they helped me on my path to living my dream as a professional footballer.”
Back to the present, and the aim of retaining our Sky Bet League One status for next season. How confident is the dressing room that we can end the campaign successfully?
“We’re definitely confident. There is still a lot of work to do and we have to remain focused but we’re confident in our ability to do well and climb the table. The late goal on Tuesday has given everyone a boost and we are eager to get back out there and continue what we’re doing.”