Fringe players bang Robbo’s door down

Izale McLeod
Izale McLeod

Izale McLeod is giving his manager food for thought after his two FA Cup goals against Halifax Town on Saturday.

The striker made his first start at stadium:mk since March, and repaid manager Karl Robinson’s faith with a brace against the Skrill Premier side.

And after picking up the man of the match award for his performance in the 4-1 win, the striker said: “I felt like I showed the manager what I’m all about.

“I believe in my own ability. I always tell the gaffer I’ll score him goals, and I’ve proven that.”

Rumours were rife last week of a proposed loan move to Northampton, but Robinson said he has never had problems with the striker and wants to keep hold of him.

He said: “There have never been and problems.

“I’ve always been positive about Izale and the qualities he possesses since he came back to the club.

“I was disappointed to hear some fans moaning when he came off on Saturday, thinking we were stifling him of his hat-trick. Do they really think I’m that shallow?

“His calf cramped up and he asked to come off before he got injured.

“I’m so happy for him. We have two strikers who can score goals.”

Robinson though admits McLeod, 29, will have to wait to get a regular starting role, but says the striker understands his role at the club.

“He knows where we are, he knows the system we play, and he knows we can change it. It doesn’t always work (playing two strikers), but he gives us a different approach.”

Another player who has impressed Robinson recently is George Baldock.

The 20-year-old replaced Jason Banton at half time on Saturday, and lifted Dons by creating two goals.

And Robinson said Baldock is far more forthcoming when asking to be in the team.

“(He brings) Energy, desire and talent - what we lacked in the first half,” said Robinson.

“It’s great. I’ve got a 20-year-old boy, a home grown talent, who is knocking my door down wanting to play.

“It’s not a strength in depth like Wolves. We’re playing younger players who have kept us in the top 10. And I’m so proud.

“I’d like to see George stay at the club for a long time. I like working with him, he gets frustrated because he wants to play, but he understands where he is in the process of things, but I made the decision very early on Saturday that I was going to bring him on.”

With Saturday’s match with Oldham postponed due to international call-ups, Robinson knows being without a game could see Dons slip further down the table through no fault of their own.

However, he believes a good run up to the busy Christmas period could put his side in a great position for the run-in in 2014.

“There’s a lot of games to play and it’s important to keep ourselves within touching distance,” Robinson said. “I hope our luck turns, but while we’re not having the luck we have to keep fighting and grinding out the results.

“I don’t think we’d have been able to compete in previous years with the injuries we’ve had. We’re still up there.

“That’s what’s so frustrating about the game being called off on Saturday, and if we won, we could have been up in the play-offs. But we might be four points behind on Saturday night having not played. You just hope psychologically it doesn’t affect people. It’s easier when other games get called off too.

“We’d rather have the points on the board than the game in hand, but we’re in a good place.”