Samir Carruthers was kicked and shoved all over the park against Charlton, but knows he has to contribute more to guarantee a place in the MK Dons side.
Putting in a man of the match performance in what he described as ‘the graveyard shift’ out wide, Carruthers teed up Dean Bowditch for the only goal of the game after 29 minutes in the 1-0 win over the struggling Addicks.
As well as a shot acrobatically saved by Stephen Henderson, Carruthers almost added another assist to his collection by lining one up for Nicky Maynard, only to see the keeper get a hand to the striker’s effort.
But still seeking his first goal of the season, Carruthers has been told by the manager and his coaching staff he has to add more goals and assists to his game.
“I’ve got five assists this season, so if I can’t score I like to contribute that way,” he said. “I could have had another one tonight as well. It’s not like I’m not trying.
“I had a sit down with the gaffer, and he said he wanted me to work harder, and I felt I had to. Not just for tonight, but every game.
“When you work hard, the talent comes through. It’s difficult when we rotate up there. There’s a good understanding. If I was aimlessly walking about and I get picked off by the left back, it’s just not going to work.
“Keith and the gaffer have told me to get into better positions, and to shoot. I know it’s one of my faults and I have to score more goals, but if I can’t score, I want to create enough to cancel out the negatives.”
The win over Charlton saw Dons remain 20th in the table, but opened up a four point cushion to the relegation zone, with next Saturday’s trip to Brighton separating them from another international break.
And Carruthers knows the win, coming off the back of three defeats in a row, was huge for confidence and morale in the Dons dressing room.
He said: “It was so important for us to get the win tonight, especially after the recent results. We’ve just got to keep picking up as many points as we can. We’ll see come the end of the season.
“We’re no fools. We know Brighton are up there with good reason, but we’ve done well tonight, created chances and we can score goals.
“We’ve got to go there and be solid, keeping a clean sheet. If we get that, it’s at least a point. It’s a great result, but we’ll still be looking to win it. It’s not our mentality to go out there and draw.
“We’re winners, we saw that last season and that hasn’t changed this season.”
His excellent display against Charlton was arguably his best performance of the season, though the 22-year-old believes he has been solid, if inconsistent, in the Championship so far, both out wide and in the centre of the park.
“I had some good porridge before the game!” he joked. “I think had a good game at Burnley and against Leeds before I got sent off. That ruined it, because everyone rightly concentrated on that.
“It was different playing out wide. They call it the graveyard shift, and now I know why!
“As long as I’m on the pitch, I’m not bothered where I play. My mum and dad have a different opinion to what the manager says, but I just say ‘yes’ to everyone!”
But he wasn’t too keen to say ‘yes’ when the manager told him there were to be eight minutes of stoppage time. With Carruthers and his team-mates already exhausted, the fourth official’s board didn’t make for pleasant reading.
“I thought he was joking when he told me,” Carruthers added. “I thought it was a mental thing to get me to keep going, but when I saw it, my belly turned!
“We all worked hard, and we pressed from the off, which is why we were so dominant. Ultimately, Charlton tired as well so it was a good performance from the lads.”