Fixture list sparks return of football

Milton Keynes Dons manager Karl Robinson and Milton Keynes Dons head of coaching Richie Barker 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. PSI-1118-0002
Milton Keynes Dons manager Karl Robinson and Milton Keynes Dons head of coaching Richie Barker 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. PSI-1118-0002
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The Proclaimers said they would walk 500 miles, but MK Dons will have to travel nearly 5,000 in their bid to return to the Championship next season.

It’s a simple process, playing each other twice, but the buzz around the return of football is as heightened as it can be when the fixture lists are revealed.

For Dons though, it marks a time when they know their movements for the next nine months and plot their way out of League 1 once again.

By the end of August, Dons will have clocked up a lot of miles already. From Shrewsbury on the opening day of the league season, they’ll play Newport County in the newly renamed EFL Cup - formerly the Capital One Cup.

Two quick-fire home games follow before another lengthy away day to Rochdale.

The beginning of the season doesn’t allow for slow starters as games come thick and fast. Dons will play six matches in 21 days in August, with the potential of seven during September, should they get past Newport in the Cup.

The number of games is really no different to the Championship, but in the second tier, Dons were able to enjoy international breaks. This time, there’s no rest for the wicked.

Big games come thick and fast too. From local derbies with Northampton, renewing fierce battles with Peterborough and the first trip to AFC Wimbledon

But Dons are no strangers to League 1 - they spent seven years there before their cameo in the Championship. They know what it will take to get them out. Similarly, they know what makes for a bad season.

“We’re looking at this season as a fresh start,” said Dons biss Karl Robinson. “It’s the building of something new and hopefully special.

“Everyone has come back really refreshed. Having chatted to the chairman, there is a real positivity about the building.

“The buzz around the place is as positive as I’ve ever seen it, off the back of one of the most difficult seasons we’ve had.

“I feel the best I’ve ever felt as a manager and I’m sure Richie (Barker) and the players will too, on the back of a season where we learnt a lot.

“From my perspective, even though we’ve come down a league, there are a lot of big games.

“Some people may feel this season will be less exciting than last but there are some big teams here and there will be some real tough challenges and tests.

“Every season throws up a different challenge and we’re all extremely looking forward to it.”

Visit the Citizen’s new MK Dons stats centre: http://www.miltonkeynes.co.uk/football-fixtures-results