Russell Martin knows MK Dons will have to be at their competitive best if they are to come out on top today against Sunderland.
Martin’s men welcome the Black Cats back to Stadium MK this afternoon, four days after the two sides met in the Papa John’s Trophy.
Sunderland ran out 3-0 winners on Tuesday evening but it was the Dons who came out on top in the reverse Sky Bet League One fixture earlier this campaign.
Martin has called on his team to be on their ‘A-Game’, to ensure it is they who edge their third and final encounter with the Wearside club this season.
“It will be a tough game, there’s no doubt about it,” Martin said in his pre-match press conference on Friday morning.
“They will be right up there this season, with the players they have for this level. They have real strength of depth.
“There is an expectation at that Club to be up there and they have a manager who has come in and embraced that.
“I do believe we’ve always performed well against the teams in the top half of the league. We have to make sure the same goes for Saturday.
“What I would say about this team, is we have been competitive in pretty much every single game. Saturday will have to be exactly the same – and with a little bit of quality and composure in the final third, we’ve got a chance of winning the game.”
The Dons were without 10 players for Tuesday’s meeting with Sunderland due to both injury and ineligibility and therefore Martin is expecting a much different battle this afternoon.
“It was the strongest team we could have played with the exception of Cammy, but it will be a different team tomorrow and a different game,” he said. “The same will go for them, of course.
“There was still loads of good stuff from us. The game went away from us late on with the changes they made, and the second goal which was really frustrating, but it was still a pretty good performance.
“We didn’t create enough clear-cut chances. We got into their final third a lot but we didn’t have enough quality or belief in that area. That will need to improve on Saturday.”
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