KARL Robinson and his players have their sights firmly set on the Championship next season, and they begin their promotion push in earnest this Saturday.
Hartlepool are the visitors to stadium:mk to kick-off the new League 1 season, and Robinson is aiming to learn lessons from the last 12 months in order to lead Dons to automatic promotion at the fourth time of asking.
He said: “The players want to go up automatically, so let’s see where the season takes us.
“If we get the luck that all our hard work deserves, then we will be there or thereabouts.
“We have the quality, the right people in place, the fans that are geared up, and we’re ready.
“It’s going to be a tough league – not one won by Christmas – and we’re prepared for the challenge.
“This is a new type of League 1 and we have to be on our A game to match any side in this division.
“There are some strong sides in this league with big budgets that we can’t compete financially, but what we will do is compete with them physically, mentally and tactically. I’ll back my players against all of them.”
Changes have been made to the squad during the summer, including the departures of two key defenders in Sean O’Hanlon and Danny Woodards.
But Robinson says he’s certain the players he has kept are more than capable of performing at a higher level.
He also said that the attractive, fast football fans came to enjoy last season will remain, and that his side are better than they were 12 months ago. And he’s backing his side to achieve the promotion everyone desperately wants.
He said: “You’ll see a team that wants to play football, but one that is better than last season.
“We have some players here who should be playing in the Championship. If we went up, I would have kept eight of the starting 11. So I know they can cope with it.
“With the quality we possess that is where we should be. The players know where they should be and that’s where we’ll get to. It is a big year for a lot of people.”