Dons excited by ‘phenomenal’ Middlesbrough

MK Dons will look to get back to scoring ways against Middlesbrough
MK Dons will look to get back to scoring ways against Middlesbrough

MK Dons face arguably the biggest test of their Championship season so far as they travel to take on much-fancied Middlesbrough this Saturday.

Aitor Karanka’s side are heavily tipped to be there or thereabouts come the end of the season after their play-off final defeat last time out.

Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka

Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka

While Dons are backed to be battling at the other end of the table, Boro have picked up just one more point than Karl Robinson’s men after the opening five matches.

But just because it’s tight at the moment, Robinson isn’t underestimating the task at hand.

“Every week is just as big an ask as before,” said Robinson. “We’re going to a team that have spent millions and are trying to get that automatic spot. We know how hard it’ll be.

“The quality they possess is phenomenal. The front four are as good as you are going to come up against. But that’s why we want to be at this level - to test ourselves against teams like this. It’ll be a hard test, but it’ll still be a test.

“We’ve got to go there and enjoy the occasion. We’re massive underdogs, but we’ll go with a strong mental mindset and a game plan.

“Middlesbrough will look at this as a game they have to win if they want to go up. We’re most people’s home bankers.”

He said: “They are a good team, they like to play football, they are not a long ball team so if we aren’t strong and compact we will have problems because they have good players.

“They like to play, and we have a good pitch. Bristol City caused us a lot of problems and we let them play, so the main thing is that we have to play at our best.

“They got promotion (last season) and they are confident.”

Dons travel to the Riverside Stadium ahead of the first meeting between the two sides without Darren Potter, Ben Reeves, Joe Walsh, Cody Cropper, Dale Jennings and Mark Randall, leaving the side fairly threadbare, with another huge match against Burnley on Tuesday night.

They will also be keen to get back to scoring ways. Having only scored five goals this season - four of which came on opening day against bottom side Rotherham - Dons have been misfiring up front, with neither Simon Church nor Sam Gallagher hitting the back of the net yet.