Mark Jackson is aware of noise that comes with Saturday’s trip to Adams Park but the MK Dons Head Coach insists his focus is solely on what his side need the points for this season.
Jackson’s Dons face Wycombe Wanderers this weekend, returning to South Buckinghamshire for the first time since the Play-Off Semi Final First Leg back in May 2022.
While the travelling MK Dons supporters will be after revenge for defeat that evening, Jackson’s energy and attention is on securing what would be a vital three points in the Dons’ bid to retain their Sky Bet League One status for 2023/24.
“I’ve not spoken about it,” the MK Dons Head Coach said when asked about last season’s play-off encounter. “Ultimately, we’re focused on this season and we need to concentrate on ourselves and what we need the points for.
“I always look forward to games, particularly when we have a little bit of confidence and momentum within the group, and there is a really good atmosphere and a bit of needle between the teams.
“There’s that little bit of extra spice being a local rivalry which has built up over the years. It adds that extra bit of taste to the game and we’re looking forward to it.
“We’re at opposite ends of the table and they are pushing at the top-end so credit to them for that. Ultimately, we’ve got a job to do and we need to know what we need to achieve. It’s another chance to win and that’s our mindset and our focus.
“We’re very aware of what they can do, their style of play and how they approach the game. We’ve looked at how they play and certain trends of what they do with and without the ball, which is something we do with every team we face.
“We have to mindful of things but confident about what we can do and implement that on Saturday. We’re focusing on what we can do and how can we play our game and implement our style with the ball.
“It’s going to be a good game. It will be a strong and physical game of football, but we want to play our way and hopefully that can help us get a positive result.”
The last time the two sides met, back at Stadium MK in October, two different managers occupied the dugouts. Jackson and Matt Bloomfield, though, are no strangers to one another, having spent time recently on their UEFA Pro Licence coaching course.
“We’re on the pro licence together so we’ve spent two blocks together and we’ve got another 18 months together over various courses. We’ve had various conversations on that.
“He’s done really well, going back to his old club and competing at the top-end of the table, hoping to push for the playoffs. Credit to him for that but it’s just another game for and an opportunity for us to try and get three points to put towards the tally we need to secure safety.”
One name familiar to both set of supporters is Anthony Stewart, who made close to 300 appearances for Wycombe Wanderers before joining Aberdeen in the summer.
Stewart joined MK Dons on loan from the Scottish outfit back in January but has yet to make an appearance owing to an injury sustained in training shortly after his arrival.
Jackson played down the chances of the centre-back making his long-awaited debut against his former side but did reveal that Stewart is back in full training and edging closer to getting back on the pitch.
“Anthony Stewart is back in full training but we have to be fully aware that he has been out a long time,” he told the media.
“Players always like to play against their old club, but Anthony has been out for a while and it’s just good to have him back in training, working towards getting back.”
Jackson continued: “We feel like, as a squad, we’re getting stronger and stronger. We’re not quite at full strength but we’re getting closer with every game that comes.
“That’s a real positive for us and for me as a manager, to have that calibre of player to choose from. We’re in good shape so there will be decisions to make as to what we go with on Saturday.”
Here is what else Mark Jackson had to say in his pre-match press conference…
On a points total needed to secure League One safety…
“I’ve got (a total) in my mind, but I’m not going to share that! Things can change. We’re just focused on continuing our run of victories. We want to win every game. I go into every game wanting three points. Every game we want to win and we want to continue our sequence of results.”
On where his side can improve after three straight wins…
“If I want more from the team, it would be around finishing our chances in the final third and being more clinical. That’s me being hypercritical because we’ve built a solid foundation over these last three games and we’re continuing to create chances.”
On discussions around players’ staying behind this season…
“I think talk around next season is a little bit premature for everyone. We’re all so focused and driven on the short-term priorities we have which is winning football matches and getting enough points to stay in this league.
“Of course, the staff and myself, to some extent, have to have an eye on the future but talk about that now is irrelevant. All our attention and energy has to go on the here and now.”
Tickets can now only bought on Saturday from the ticket office at Adams Park, which will be open from 12pm. Sales will be card only. Tickets are priced at £26 adults, £23 seniors, £21 mid-adults, £19 young adults, £15 juniors and £6 children.
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