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Captain confident Dons can turn it around

Dean Lewington reflects on the Papa John's Trophy tie with Bristol Rovers...

14 December 2022

Dean Lewington remains confident that MK Dons will work their way out of their current position – but says it’s on the players to play their part in achieving survival.

Lewington has interim care of the first-team following the departure of Head Coach Liam Manning and the Club captain took charge of Tuesday’s Papa John’s Trophy tie with Bristol Rovers.

Although the match ended in a heavy defeat for the Dons, Lewington believes there were signs in the performance that provide optimism for the future under a new Head Coach.

“I am,” Lewington told the media when asked if he was confident that MK Dons could get out of the relegation fight they are in, in Sky Bet League One.

“Looking at the game tonight, it was a difficult result, although I don’t think it tells the whole story. There were a lot of things between the boxes that I thought were pretty good. There was an energy about the team and some good bits out of it.

“I’m not saying that’s good enough and we do need to be better but from what I’ve seen tonight, and this season, this team isn’t too different in terms of ability than most teams we have faced, some who are a lot higher up.

“Hopefully a new manager can come in with a new energy, a new purpose and a few new ideas and along with a few new players in January, I think we will have a right chance. It’ll then be down to us, as players to give it a right go and fight.”

Reflecting further on Tuesday’s performance, Lewington added: “They were all preventable goals that we conceded. Sitting there watching it, I didn’t think we were in any trouble and then suddenly, one mistake and they’ve scored. They had five shots, I think, and scored four goals. It’s something we need to better at because therein lies the problem.

“In the final third, we lacked that element of aggression and knowhow. That’s not just on the strikers, it’s the balls into the box and people making the box and having the attitude to get in there and score a goal. It’s something we need to improve on.

“Ultimately, though, we’ve had a tough run of games and we had some boys with knocks from Saturday so we had to change our team a little bit. We’ve also given minutes to boys that needed minutes so it was a mix of a team with an eye on the long term and what we’ll need in the coming weeks, rather than winning the game.

“All I wanted to see some character and fight – they showed a little bit of that and kept going until the end, even at four-nil. Credit to them and that gives us a little bit of hope.”

Lewington is currently sidelined through injury – one which will require surgery, which is set to take place in the coming days in order to ensure the MK Dons number three returns to the pitch as soon as possible.

On the injury, he commented: “I was injured against Barnsley but was able to get back in 10 days. It went again and originally I thought it was just another strain but after a scan, it’s turned out to be a lot of worse.

“I need to have an operation, which was originally supposed to be (Tuesday) but needs must and that got put on the backburner. I do need it soon so we’ll see what happens.”

Here is what else Dean Lewington had to say in his post-match press confidence…

On the mood in the camp…
“It was low on Monday. It’s low anyway because of where we are in the league but also with the manager going – Liam was a popular figure and the boys respected him. We are disappointed to see him go. We had a chat on Monday and training was pretty good. The aim was to try and get some life back into the team and for large spells of this game, I thought we did that. The midfield three had energy, won second balls and competed – we looked like a team. It’s just moments in games that are costing us at the moment – individual mistakes – and we can’t keep doing that.”

On players taking responsibility…
“I think we do. It’s been a difficult year after losing 14 players in the summer. Some of the players who we have brought in have not worked out yet for whatever reason and players have not hit the levels they should be. It’s hugely frustrating. The Gaffer has had to be held to account for that but as a whole Club, we have to take responsibility – we have to take our equal share of the blame and try to be better.”

On a new Head Coach…
“I’m sure the person we bring in will have the qualities required – determination and confidence that we can do this job. We are not far away from January now as well and it’s going to be an important transfer window to address some of the problems. We need to get it right.”

***

MK Dons turn their attention back to Sky Bet League One on Saturday when they travel to Fratton Park to face Portsmouth.

Tickets, which are available to buy online and from the Box Office, are priced at £24 adults, £18 65+, £16 young adults and £7 under-18s. To book tickets CLICK HERE, visit the Box Office at Stadium MK or call 01908 622933.

Tickets will be available to buy from the Box Office up until 4pm on Friday 16 December. This match has been designated ALL-TICKET for away supporters, meaning there will be no away sales at Fratton Park on the day of the game and all tickets must be purchased in advance.


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