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O’Riley makes MK Dons move

Midfielder becomes fifth signing of the window...

24 January 2021

MK Dons have completed the signing of former Fulham midfielder Matt O’Riley.

O’Riley, 20, has been a free agent since turning down a contract offer from the Cottagers in July, but has been training with the Dons since the start of this season.

As an out of contract under-24 player, Fulham are due compensation and the two clubs are have agreed an appropriate settlement.

The former England youth international, who has attracted interest from the likes of Liverpool, Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City during his young career, made four senior appearances for Fulham, including a Championship appearance last term.

“I’ve been here training with the boys for six months now and I’ve loved every minute,” O’Riley told iFollow MK Dons in his first interview since completing the deal.

“I initially came here just to keep fit after leaving Fulham but it felt like the perfect place for me. We looked into whether something could be done and, eventually, here we are.

“I haven’t played a game in quite a while but I have been training here for quite a while so I’m feeling sharp and ready to go. Hopefully I can get some minutes soon and start making an impact.

“I’m very excited to get going, especially in this team. This is my ideal style of football and I hope to come in and bring goals and assists and be as creative as possible.”

O’Riley joined Fulham as an eight-year-old and progressed their youth set-up to become a regular for their Under-18s and Under-23s by the 2016/17 season. That campaign, he become the club’s youngest scorer at Under-23 level, netting in a 4-2 win against Charlton Athletic.

The following season, the midfielder spent time with the first-team squad during their pre-season tours to Poland and Germany before making his senior professional debut as a 16-year-old in August 2017, starting a 2-0 Carabao Cup win over Wycombe Wanderers at Adams Park. He would also represent his country at Under-18s level, having previously made appearances for England’s Under-16s.

O’Riley would go on to play a further four first-team matches for Fulham, including a Sky Bet Championship start last season at home to Reading, before departing Craven Cottage this summer after turning down a new deal to stay with the club.

MK Dons manager Russell Martin told “Matt has been training with us for a long time now but we all recognised, very quickly, what a gifted footballer he is and why he’s been wanted by some big clubs over the last few years.

“He’s come to a point in his career where he just wants to play football, but he’s also been willing to wait and hold out for a move here, which is an incredible statement of intent.

“It’s going to be a brilliant and important signing for us. He’s certainly one for the long term but he can also help us in the short term because he’s been training with us and understands how we want to play.”

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