DONS have endured a topsy-turvy few days that have seen one player rejoin the club, one ruled out of the start of the season through injury, and a draw in a pre-season friendly.
Angelo Balanta re-signed with Karl Robinson’s men on Monday, joining on a five-month loan deal from Premier League parent club Queens Park Rangers.
The 21-year-old has returned to stadium:mk, where he was a huge hit on the pitch last season, despite spending nearly four months on the sidelines with a broken ankle. Despite that injury, Balanta made 25 appearances for Dons last term, hitting the net five times.
Earlier this summer, Robinson admitted a deal to sign the winger was almost dead in the water as he expected to fight for a place at recently promoted QPR, but was delighted that it came to fruition ahead of Saturday’s League 1 season opener against Hartlepool.
“I’ve said all summer I wanted a player to come in who would excite the fans, play our style of football and add something special to the team, and in Angelo I know we have that,” said Robinson.
“Last year Angelo showed he’s an incredibly talented footballer and to have him back is fantastic news for the football club. But he knows he has to deliver week in, week out and continue to develop his own game.”
But the good news came after a real blow for Robinson as Mathias Doumbe was ruled out for a minimum of six weeks.
Doumbe had to be replaced early in Dons’ pre-season friendly against Oxford, but the extent of his injury – ankle ligament damage – was unknown until late last week.
Head of sports medicine Simon Crampton said: “It’s too early to put a definitive time scale on it, but we expect Mathias to be out of action for a minimum of six weeks.
“He will wear an air cast boot for two weeks and will be non weight bearing – this will give the ligament the best opportunity to heal.”
Saturday saw Dons’ pre-season campaign come to a close, ending with a 1-1 draw with League 2 side Barnet, and a familiar name on the scoresheet.
Despite an early half-chance for Barnet, Dons controlled the game for long periods at Underhill, but as was the case at the Kassam Stadium seven days earlier, the visitors were guilty of missing too many chances.
Both Sam Baldock and Jabo Ibehre had chances to put Dons ahead but fired over. Daniel Powell could also have given Dons the lead but his shot hit the side netting.
It was left to Stephen Gleeson to open the scoring for Dons after 21 minutes as he latched onto a Shaun Williams through-ball, neatly slotting past Dean Brill. But while the result could have been better, Robinson will have been pleased to come away from the game without any further injuries.
Dons fans in attendance were also given 25 minutes to watch summer signing Dean Bowditch, making his first appearance in a Dons shirt in this country. He added his name to the list of players guilty of not taking their chances, as he wasted a good opportunity at the near post in the dying minutes.
And Dons were made to rue their missed chances as they gave away a late corner. MacKenzie rose highest but his header came off his own bar, and it fell to Dons’ all-time leading scorer Izale McLeod who bundled the ball over the line.