mkdons.com details the storylines to follow ahead of Saturday's Sky Bet League One opener with Doncaster Rovers...
A new league season begins
MK Dons begin another season of Sky Bet League One football this weekend, looking to improve on their 19th place finish in 2019/20.
This season is sure to look different than any other, not least because there will be no supporters inside stadiums at the start, but Russell Martin will be hoping things also go differently for his side on the pitch as well.
Martin, and his players, have refrained from making any bold statements about their aims for this campaign but they will certainly be looking to improve on last term and avoid having to face another relegation battle.
The Dons have bolstered their squad with some new additions and returning faces but a number of key performers from last season have departed - only adding to the intrigue that is already in place ahead of Martin’s first full campaign in charge.
Ultimately, all will be decided after 46 matches are played over the next eight months – the first of which takes place this Saturday in South Yorkshire.
190 days apart
There is something poetic in the fact that MK Dons’ first league game back following the Coronavirus outbreak is against the same team they faced in their final game before Lockdown.
Doncaster Rovers visited Stadium MK in early March, just six days before the EFL season was suspended. Little did anyone know then that it would be over six months before Martin’s side would be returning to the pitch for a league encounter.
Plenty has changed since that 1-0 defeat in Milton Keynes. The Dons, for sure, will be lining up much differently than they did that Spring afternoon. Martin will surely be hoping those alterations over the summer will be enough to reverse the scoreline in their favour.
Youngsters providing food for thought
Russell Martin has admitted he’ll have plenty of squad decisions to make ahead of this weekend’s opener, following impressive performances from some of his homegrown talent in Tuesday’s 3-1 win over Northampton Town.
The Academy stars stole the show as MK Dons made the perfect start to their EFL Trophy campaign, with a product of the Club’s youth system involved in each of the three goals scored at Stadium MK.
Matthew Sorinola provided the assist for Regan Poole’s opener while his sumptuous strike sealed the win late on. Sandwiched between those goals was a finish from Sam Nombe, set up by John Freeman who also created Sorinola’s third.
The Dons are set to be bolstered by the return of Daniel Harvie from international duty on Saturday while the likes of Lee Nicholls, Callum Brittain and Carlton Morris could also come back in after being rested in midweek.
Martin, though, has certainly left the door open to keeping his young Dons involved this weekend.
Will Fraser be involved?
MK Dons pulled off the signing of sought-after Scott Fraser on Wednesday afternoon – adding his goals and creativity to their much-changed midfield ahead of the new season.
The former Burton Albion man scored nine goals and provided 14 assists last term while also ranking third amongst League One players for key passes.
While Dons fans will be eager to Fraser in action, the 25-year-old has been a free agent since leaving Burton at the end of June and hasn’t started a football match since February.
Therefore, it remains to be seen whether Martin will throw him straight into the squad for Saturday’s trip to Doncaster Rovers or if MK Dons supporters will have to wait to see their new number 10.
Latest on the injury front
Russell Martin will speak to the media on Friday morning to preview this weekend’s fixture and he’s sure to provide an update on his injured players.
It’s unlikely George Williams, Richard Keogh and Kieran Agard will be involved as they work their way back from ailments which have sidelined them throughout pre-season.
Louis Thompson is also expected to miss out but there could be some clarity provided on Ben Gladwin, who was being assessed for a knock sustained in training last week.
Russell Martin’s press conference will begin around 9am, with quotes and videos to follow on mkdons.com as well as across the Club’s media channels.
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