Chelsea game a nice distraction for Dons

MK Dons midfielder Darren Potter during the Sky Bet Championship match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Milton Keynes Dons at the American Express Community Stadium, Brighton and Hove, England on 7 November 2015. Photo by Bennett Dean. PNL-160129-101535002

MK Dons midfielder Darren Potter during the Sky Bet Championship match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Milton Keynes Dons at the American Express Community Stadium, Brighton and Hove, England on 7 November 2015. Photo by Bennett Dean. PNL-160129-101535002

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The lucrative game against Chelsea will serve as an excellent distraction from a difficult league campaign for MK Dons, says Darren Potter.

The vice captain, along with the rest of the players, returned to training on Thursday after being given four days off following the Bolton defeat last Saturday.

The result, which could have seen Dons distance themselves from the relegation battle, sees them sit just two points outside the Championship drop zone.

And while Dons will be preparing for one of the biggest games in the club’s history, other results could see them fall into the bottom three without kicking a ball.

But the struggles of their first season in the Championship haven’t been unexpected for Potter, and while there have been tough times, he hopes to use the Chelsea game as a distraction.

“Sunday is a respite from the league and gives us a chance to take our minds off it,” he said. “It comes after a difficult defeat in the league. The season hasn’t been going too well for us, with a lot of ups and downs.

“We were under no illusions this season how tough it would be. Anyone who had ideas that we’d be flying high were delusional in my eyes. We knew it was going to be hard and it has proved that way.

“We’re only two places outside the relegation zone, but if we’re still there at the end of the season that’ll be a sign of success for us.”

And though any result other than a loss would be something of shock, Potter knows upsets aren’t out of the ordinary in the FA Cup.

But given the opposition Dons will likely be facing on Sunday, he knows the scale of the task he will be facing.

He said: “There have been plenty of occasions in the past when lower league teams have knocked out top sides causing an upset, and there will be many more too. We’re not without hope that it might happen again on Sunday.

“I don’t think Chelsea have lost a game since Guus Hiddink arrived at the club, so they’ve turned a corner and are putting in some good performances.

“They’re almost the Chelsea you’ve come to expect. I know they’re still in the bottom half of the table but their fortunes are on the up.”

While bookmakers have Chelsea as heavy favourites for the game, Potter says Dons have nothing to fear from taking on some of the biggest names in world football.

He said: “This is why we play, we want to test ourselves against the best. Sunday is a chance to do that.

“The gaffer won’t send anybody out there if they’re fearful of the game. This Chelsea side have plenty of world-class talent, but these games are why we play football.”