Russell Martin has confirmed four players are set to depart MK Dons when their contracts expire at the end of this season, including three who won promotion with the Club in 2019.
Kieran Agard, Jordan Houghton, Joe Mason and Lee Nicholls are all out of contract at the end of June and, at this time, have not been offered fresh terms.
Agard, Houghton and Nicholls were all part of the 2018/19 promotion-winning side and have totalled 430 appearances between them in a Dons shirt.
Agard is the Club’s third all-time top goalscorer and ranks 12th for games played while Nicholls sits two places below him that appearance list with 157 to his name – the third most by an MK Dons goalkeeper. Houghton recently surpassed 100 club appearances, including 23 this season.
Mason, meanwhile, joined MK Dons in summer 2019 and has scored nine goals in 45 appearances since then, including the winner in Russell Martin’s first victory as Dons manager as well as a hat-trick earlier this season against Fleetwood Town.
Discussing the quartet, Martin said: “Kieran has not played a huge amount but that’s not always been his fault - it’s where the team found itself and other things come into it because it’s football.
“His personality and professionalism has been incredible all the way through and I have a huge amount of respect for him and the way he’s behaved. He has a lot to offer someone, I have no doubts about it.
“Joe Mason is close to moving somewhere else and it’s an exciting move for him. It’s a shame we’ve not got him a run of games out of him because he’s someone with huge talent. He’s scored some important goals and I’ve loved working with him.
“With Jordan and Lee, it’s tough saying goodbye. They were two of the most important players for us last season and have been huge for us in this period of transition. Lee’s support of Fish has been so, so big to help him develop.
“We are so grateful for the role they play but I can’t make decisions based on sentiment and they both know that. We wish nothing but the best and wherever these two go, the two clubs are lucky to have them in the building.”
Martin has also revealed in his press conference that MK Dons remain in discussions with the following players, whose contracts are due to expire at the end of this season: Jay Bird, Ben Gladwin, Cameron Jerome, Josh McEachran, Matthew Sorinola, Andrew Surman and Laurie Walker.
He said “I want Cammy to stay but I feel it’s probably unlikely, if I’m honest. At this minute, he probably wants to be closer to home and he has Championship interest too.
“He appreciates how well it’s gone here because he’s been a huge part of it and scored a lot of goals. If it was down to just enjoying football, I’m confident he’d stay but he’s not seen his kids much and there are more things that go into it.
“I feel Matty’s best place is here to carry on his development. I think young guys have to be careful at this stage of their careers. He’s got the potential to be a top player but so much of football is timing and opportunity and we’ve given him it. He’s grabbed that opportunity and it’ll be sad to lose him due to the amount of time we’ve worked with him.
“Josh has been great and will only get better with time. It’ll be good to get an agreement with him.
“Glads has shown how good he is but just got injured at the wrong time.
“Andrew Surman is a bit like Cameron. He’s travelled a lot this season but he’s been one of our most important players and been one of the best midfielders in the league. I really want to keep him, but he’s got a lot to think about.
“Jay Bird is close to agreeing a deal. He suffered that injury and he needs to make sure he returns in the best shape possible to put himself in the frame.
“We are waiting for Laurie to finish the season because we want him to focus on games first.”
The Dons are also set to say goodbye to their four loanees, who will return to their parent clubs after Sunday’s finale. These are Will Grigg (Sunderland), Ethan Laird (Manchester United), Lasse Sorensen (Stoke City) and Louis Thompson (Norwich City).
Martin said: “It’s been a brilliant loan for Ethan and he’s just got better and better. He’s improved in a lot of areas.
“We had Les Parry here yesterday who is head of loans at Manchester United and we got a lot of feedback from him. Les was very complimentary of us as a Club and the way we play and what it’s exposed Ethan too.
“It helps to build our relationship with Manchester United and shows we can look after their players. I spoke with Darren Fletcher, too, about football and Ethan and we hope it’s a mutually beneficial relationship.
“We’ll have to wait and see what happens with Ethan but I have no doubts he has all the tools to play at the top level.
“For Lasse, it’s been his first loan and although he hasn’t played recently, it’s been a successful first loan for him. He’s played 30 games and had a lot of minutes. He’s learnt a lot with a new group of guys. He’s never sulked and matured a lot. It’s been frustrating for him but the way he’s dealt with it is a credit to him and his personality.
“We have to wait and see with Griggy and what happens with Sunderland. We’d love to have him back but he’s going to have a lot of interest elsewhere because of his talent.
“Louis, too, brings us so much on and off the pitch - he’s a really positive and influential person.”
The remaining 15 players are under contract for the 2021/22 season:
Hiram Boateng, Charlie Brown, Harry Darling, Jack Davies, Andrew Fisher, Scott Fraser, John Freeman, Daniel Harvie, Lewis Johnson, Zak Jules, David Kasumu, Dean Lewington, Sam Nombe, Warren O’Hora, Matt O’Riley