Dons’ defence needs strengthening admits Robbo

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INJURY to Mathias Doumbe has forced Dons boss Karl Robinson to re-think his transfer plans and try to sign another centre back.

Doumbe has been ruled out for at least six weeks with ankle ligament damage, and now his manager has been left with a difficult decision – whether to put his faith in youth with Tom Flanagan, whether to risk Shaun Williams in a weaker position, or whether to hunt for a short-term loan deal to cover while the French defender returns to fitness.

Just a day after Dons suffered their heartbreaking League 1 play-off semi final defeat to Peterborough, the club announced that centre back Sean O’Hanlon and right-back Danny Woodards had been released, and so far only goalkeeper Ian McLoughin has been added to a heavily depleted back line.

And Robinson was quick to admit that his plans have been badly affected by Doumbe’s injury and that he now plans to bring in at least two defenders before the end of the transfer window.

“It’s affected us massively,” he said. “Everyone knows he and Gary MacKenzie were my first choice, and unfortunately to go down the way he did is a huge blow to us.

“I know I need a centre half and a full back. I’m not going to rush into anything, but I want the right player to get us into the Championship.

“Mathias didn’t have an injury all last season, but that’s part of the industry and we have to search for someone to cover the month he is out.”

With almost a month to go until the August 31 transfer deadline, Robinson has time on his side to find the defender he desperately needs.

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom in the transfer market this summer as Dons swooped for popular winger Angelo Balanta, who returned only briefly to parent club Queens Park Rangers. And Robinson said he was asking everyone at the club to contact the Colombian to urge him back to stadium:mk for a second spell.

“We’ve spent a month pestering him. Myself, John Gorman, the players, phoning his agent – It was relentless,” said Robinson.

“I think he’s come to realise just how much we want him here and he decided to come and rejoin us again.

“It’s massive for us. The players know exactly what he’s capable of because of what he did last year. He’s added to the quality of the squad. He’s really lifted the dressing room, and the terraces because they’re excited to see him back in the number 11.”

Asked whether Balanta was the final piece to his attacking jigsaw, Robinson said: “He is, but then I’m always looking for more. I know I have enough quality to start the season, but I’ll keep looking to make us a stronger unit.”

>> Meanwhile, youngster Harry Milton has been earning some first team experience on trial with Tamworth. He played twice for the Conference club last week ahead of a possible loan move.