Cropper is keen to impress

Cody Cropper

Cody Cropper

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There is only one New Year’s Resolution for Cody Cropper for 2016: to become MK Dons’ number one goalkeeper.

The American has been limited to just two appearances this season, both in the Capital One Cup, since signing from Southampton in the summer as he settles into his role as David Martin’s understudy.

MK Dons goalkeeper David Martin prepares to face a corner 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. PSI-1119-0017

MK Dons goalkeeper David Martin prepares to face a corner 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. PSI-1119-0017

At 22-years-old, Cropper knows he has to bide his time before being given the shot as a regular between the sticks at stadium:mk, but is determined make his case felt to become the club’s number one ahead of Martin.

And though he backs his fellow goalkeeper, Cropper’s confident he can do it.

“I feel like I’m close,” he said. “I’m ready and willing to jump in and start playing if the opportunity arises.

“I’ve had conversations with the gaffer and Paul Heald about the future of the club. That’s one of the reasons they’ve brought be here.

“I’m biding my time while Dave is doing his bit. He has earned the right to be number one here. I’m only looking towards the future.”

Dislodging Martin though could be a harder task than anticipated for Cropper. With Martin the undoubted number one at stadium:mk in his five-and-a-half years, Cropper is keen to take the challenge to his team-mate.

He said: “It’s very difficult but Dave has been one of MK’s most consistent players. When I signed here, I knew that. I wanted to come here and have an elder goalkeeper who I could learn from.

“But of course it is frustrating to watch us lose. It’s easy to sit on the bench and think I could do better.”

Adapting to Milton Keynes has been very easy for Cropper, who likened the town to the grid systems in his native USA.

But unlike his simple acclimatisation to the land of the roundabout, Dons have struggled to find their feet in the Championship this season.

But with performances on the up, Cropper feels the club are heading in the right direction for results to start falling into place.

“As a club, we can do as well as can be asked. It’s a big league for us to be in, it’s really hard for the players.

“The results aren’t going as we want them to, but our performances are exactly what everyone wants. We have to stick by our style of play which has got the club here in the first place.

“At the start of the season, we were predicted to finish 24th of 24, and that has driven us as players to prove them wrong.

“We want to prove we deserve to be at this level. We’ve got players who have played at this level, and we all want to be here. We just have to get the results we deserve.

“On any given day, any team can win a match. But we need to keep believing and keep doing what we’re doing. We just need lady luck to be on our side and get on a roll.”

But scoring goals has been Dons’ biggest problem so far this season. As the man who faces the likes of Nicky Maynard, Sam Gallagher and Simon Church more than most, Cropper believes they are the right men for the job

He said: “The strikers are very good here. All three are very good.

“Nicky has a strong history of scoring goals, and that was one of the biggest reasons the gaffer brought him here. He’s beginning to find his feet now.

“The system we play is hard because he’s up there on his own, or Simon Church or Sam Gallagher.

“But we’re finding the right tactics to get the balls to them for them to turn and find the goal.

“We’re playing a lot of our game under pressure, so we’re delivering the ball to the strikers in the air.

“I think Sam is probably the only one who can deal with it like that, he’s that sort of striker. Nicky or Simon would prefer it in to feet.”

“It’s hard in the system we play, but they have to be fed the ball in the right way.”