Dons’ yellow fever is a thing of the past

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THREE red cards in two games may seem like a return to the darker days of last season.

First Sean O’Hanlon was given his marching orders away at Bristol Rovers before Gary MacKenzie was sent for an early bath before half time against Sheffield Wednesday. And Peter Leven was also dismissed at Hillsborough, bringing Dons’ red card total for the season to eight - the second highest in the division behind Plymouth.

However, the club’s yellow card count, which last season reached a rather embarrassing 128 - that was 48 more than any other club in that division - is considerably down this term, with 47 coming from 29 games.

And since taking over as boss, Karl Robinson says he has told his players to try and keep more of a level head when they’re on the end of unfavourable refereeing decisions.

“The discipline of the team was something raised at one of the fans’ forums earlier in the season. People didn’t want to see that from their team,” said Robinson.

“But I think we have been on the end of some quite harsh refereeing decisions that have seen us pick up bookings.

“It’s not really something we’ve singled out to work on - I think our style of play has changed in such a way that that element is no longer such a big part of our game.”

What Saturday’s latest red cards do mean however, is that Robinson’s already small squad is hit with suspensions, as well as long-term injuries to Angelo Balanta and Sam Baldock.

“We’ve already got a small squad and those suspensions won’t help, but they’re only one match bans, and O’Hanlon is back this weekend which gives us a boost,” added Robinson.

While the transfer window saw three players join the ranks at stadium:mk, three were sold and two more released.

Dietmar Hamann has also left for Leicester City, while Mark Carrington admitted he had to persuade the club to release him from his contract in order to secure a move to Scottish Premier League side Hamilton Academical after Robinson couldn’t guarantee the 23-year-old first team football.

More worrying for Dons though is the fitness of Sam Baldock. After a lengthy spell on the sidelines following a hamstring injury picked up in November, the striker returned to first team action against Dagenham & Redbridge, but lasted just a quarter of an hour before limping off once again.

Robinson said: “With Sam, we don’t know when he’ll be back. He’s such an enthusiastic player - he just loves being around the place and wants to get involved - but he needs to get fit again.

“We need to let him heal properly. We didn’t rush him back to play against Dagenham - he was fully fit - but it was bad luck that he got injured when he did, so soon after coming on.

“And it’s a credit to our medical staff that QPR have told Angelo Balanta to stay here to complete his rehabilitation, because we do thinks properly.

“When he’s fit, and when Sam is fit, we will be a frightening prospect to play against with so much pace going forward.”

Already a pretty frightening prospect for League One teams is Dons’ home form. With nine victories from 12 home outings, and only two defeats, Dons will be looking to strengthen their grip on the play-off places this Saturday against Brentford.