An air of optimism among the Dons squad

MK Dons pre-season training

MK Dons pre-season training

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There is a sense of the unknown about the forthcoming season down at stadium:mk - or at least that’s the impression they’re giving off.

In years gone by, Karl Robinson would have had his players whipped up into a frenzy ahead of Saturday’s League One opener against Shrewsbury.

But while there is an optimism among the players and staff ahead of the new campaign, it’s much quieter than before - not that it should be confused with pessimism, though.

“We’re looking forward to it,” said Robinson. “We feel good. The season is just around the corner and this is the week when all the hype and expectation gets built up. We try and take it in our stride but it’s difficult sometimes.

“It’s everyone’s hopes and dreams being built up in one week. We’re extremely excited by the prospect of the new season.

“The Shrewsbury game is the one game we’ve been preparing for in six weeks, then we’ll have more than 10 games to come in less than 10 weeks.

“We feel we’re in a good place and we’ve all worked hard. We’ve got no excuses, nothing to worry about, and we’re raring to go.”

No fewer than four players left the club during the course of the summer, three of which were defenders.

But in response, Robinson has moved to bring in two new faces and two loan signings in a bid to inject a new lease of life into the team which came up short last term.

Now considerably younger, the squad, by Robinson’s own admissions, has a different feel to the one he prepared with 12 months ago, but admits he cannot draw comparisons between the two.

He said: “We believe we have enough players who will be able to cope with the demands of the season. We showed last year how close we can be, but we will never know how good last season’s team was.

“You can’t judge this side on last year, but we feel if we can keep everyone fit, we’ll be competitive to get out of the league.

“The energy has changed a lot. The youthful energy they bring is wonderful, but they’ve got some tremendous role models. The balance is right.”

And it’s likely that the weigh of the ‘goal-scorer’ moniker will fall on Patrick Bamford’s 19-year-old shoulders next season.

“I think he knows that,” said Robinson. “Patrick can play wide or in behind. He’s an exceptional talent, and if he’s fit we’ll find a place for him.”

Whether Robinson’s faith in youth pays off will be plain for all to tell in the coming months.