Eyes are firmly on the cups for MK Dons, as they prepare to kick-off in 2021 with ties in the Emirates FA Cup and the Papa John’s Trophy.
Russell Martin’s men saw their opening game of the New Year – a trip to Rochdale – postponed due to Covid-19 issues with Dale, which means their first two matches of 2021 will be an Emirates FA Cup Third Round tie with Burnley this Saturday, followed by their Papa John’s Trophy Round of 16 tie against Northampton Town on Tuesday week.
“We’re looking forward to both games,” the boss said in an exclusive interview with iFollow MK Dons, which is now available to watch for FREE. “The carrot for both games is massive.
“The carrot for us in the FA Cup, by winning our first two games, was a game against Premier League opposition which we will be a brilliant test for us.
“We talk about identity a lot here, and Burnley have such a clear one under Sean Dyche. That will be an interesting challenge for us and one we should look forward to.
“We go there with pressure, because we always put pressure on ourselves to play the way we want to play and that’s going to be the biggest challenge – how well can we stick true to ourselves and how we want to play against a team of their calibre.
“Northampton is going to be a really tough game too. We’ve been there already this season and the pitch was tough and they made it really difficult for us.
“This is also an important trophy for us. The reward at end of it is massive – winning a trophy at Wembley. Not many get to experience that in their career so it’s huge.”
Martin added: “I’m looking forward to those two games and then, of course, the focus will shift onto the league.”
MK Dons don’t return to Sky Bet League One action until Saturday 16 January, when they visit fifth-placed Peterborough United.
Martin’s men will travel to Cambridgeshire next weekend on the back of successive wins and within seven points of the top six, and the Dons boss wants his side to continue building that momentum as they enter the second half of the season.
“This season, for us, is about improving on last season,” he said. “The players know how I feel about things and where I think we’re at but, ultimately, let’s just keep improving and continue building on the positivity that we’ve gained recently.
“I want us to continue being ‘us’ as much as possible. I want our supporters to enjoy watching their team play and watch it with pride. I want the players to enjoy playing their football too.
“We haven’t enjoyed it enough at times because frustration has taken over a lot this season. I want us to enjoy it a lot more and let’s just see where that takes us.
“If we do that then hopefully, come the end of the season, we can look back with pride at how far we’ve come and we can look onwards and upwards.”
Supporters can watch MK Dons' upcoming cup matches online thanks to the FA Player and iFollow MK Dons.
Saturday's Emirates FA Cup tie with Burnley will be shown FREE on the FA Player - click HERE for more information!
Meanwhile, fans will be able to watch next week's Papa John's Trophy tie with Northampton Town live on iFollow MK Dons - click HERE for more information and to purchase a Video Match Pass!