Mark Jackson isn’t playing down the importance of Saturday’s clash with Morecambe and hopes the momentum gained from his side's last two outings will help inspire them to victory at Stadium MK.
MK Dons face the Shrimpers this weekend looking to secure a third straight Sky Bet League One victory and move further clear of the bottom four.
This will be their third game in succession against teams battling at the foot of the table and Jackson is confident that the experiences gained over the last fortnight will prove beneficial in Saturday’s encounter.
“It’s a big one for us and we can't shy away from that,” Jackson said in his pre-match press conference. “We've got to go out with the mindset to win the game.
“It will be about who can deal with the situation and the magnitude of the game the best. We've experienced similar over recent weeks and we've come through those experiences really well so hopefully we've got the confidence within ourselves to go and do that again.
“We have to be mindful and respectful of the threat that Morecambe will pose. We need to be ready for that and we need to nullify that, and we need to be ready to impose our game on them as well.
“It’s a massive game and we will be looking for three points - we'll be doing everything we can to get them.”
Back-to-back wins over Cambridge United and Accrington Stanley have lifted the Dons from a position of 22nd to 20th, a point clear of the bottom four and within a victory of moving above Oxford United into 19th.
Discussing the impact the successive victories have had, Jackson said: “It just calms people down a little bit.
“People can be really apprehensive when things are not going their away. When you lose games and you’re in the position we’re in, there’s a nervousness that comes around the place and that’s a natural reaction from a human being.
“It’s my job to help manage those situations and keep the focus driving towards what we want to do. I try and be the same person, even when things aren't going well, and I always have the same focus of what we want to do and what we want to achieve.
“That focus never changes, even when we do get victories, and two on the spin like we did. It just gives us that little bit of a breathing space but we need to keep moving forward because we've still got a lot a lot of work to do in a short space of time.
“We’ve got to be continuously driven to achieve our goals and we can't take our foot off the gas at anyone point. That’s been the message to the players and they have responded really well in training.
“It’s been difficult conditions, with the wind and the rain but the focus and drive towards getting better every day and implementing our game plan has been fantastic. We’ll keep that same message going forward.”
The Dons will be boosted by the return of Jonathan Leko this weekend, after the forward completed his three-match suspension, and while Anthony Stewart isn’t quite ready to feature, the January signing is making tangible progress in his recovery.
“It gives us another element to our game having Jonathan back, with what he brings to the game - his directness, he’s powerful and he can create and score. Him coming back into contention really boosts the squad.
“(Anthony) been back in, I'd say, part-training this week, which has been really good. Last week, he just was taking part in warm-ups but this week it has been a more active role.
“He’s still not in full training but if everything goes well this week then he will be in full training next week. If he comes through that, he will be available for selection. That will be another big boost for us, with the calibre of player he is and the leadership qualities he has.
“It's great to see the smile on his face as well because it's been a really tough time for Anthony since he came in. To come in and want to make an impact, only to have that taken away from you is difficult, but he’s conducted himself well since he's been around the players and he's been working really hard with the medical stuff.”
Jackson added: “Hopefully now that these suspensions are coming back and injuries are coming back, the squad is getting stronger and stronger and that's coming at a crucial time for us.
“Having that competition for places, having those experienced players coming back, is really vital. Of course, they’ve got to fight for their place like everybody else but to have those calibre of players coming back is great for us.”
Here is what else Mark Jackson had to say in his pre-match press conference…
On looking out for other results…
“Of course, we look out for the games. I paid £10 to watch the Accrington and Plymouth game the other day! Of course we look out for results but we can't control what other teams do, all we can concentrate on is what we do and our mindset.
“Things have gone our way lately but I’m sure between now and the end of the season results won't go our way. There will be lots of ups and downs and all we can focus on is what we're doing and that's what we are doing.”
On Dean Lewington’s impact since returning from injury…
“In the short time I've worked with Dean since I came in, he’s been a terrific leader. He leads by example on the pitch, he leads vocally by using his voice – he’s an all-round leader in that in that respect.
“He is such a calming influence to the players around him, which is essential on the pitch during difficult times. He is also a player who has tremendous football ability and that's been apparent in the past two games.
“He's a big influence to the players in the squad, he is a great character and a great footballer to have in our team at this minute.”
On team selections becoming a tough decision…
“It's my job to make tough decisions as regards to what we need, where our levels of performance are and taking into account the opposition as well. We’re not driven by the opposition, because we like to take care of what we do, but it’s important. Consistency is important too but if I feel that we need to tweak something or change something then I'll do.
“I will have to continue to make those decisions from now until the end of the season and I'm quite comfortable with that. I always work with my staff to discuss what we're going to do and then, ultimately, make that decision to pick a team that we feel can win the game.”
Tickets for Saturday's Stadium MK clash with Morecambe are priced at £24 adults, £18 over-65s, £12 under-25s and £6 under-18s while under-12s and under-7s tickets are priced from £3. Upgrades are available to East Centre and Club Red. Please note, ticket prices will increase by £2 on the day of the game.
To book tickets CLICK HERE, visit the Box Office at Stadium MK or call 01908 622933. Tickets will be available to buy right up until kick-off from the Box Office.