George Baldock emerges as Dons’ new ‘one of our own’

George Baldock

George Baldock

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George Baldock admitted it has been a period of highs and lows from his Boundary Park debut in 2011 and his first Dons goal at the same ground three years later.

In that time, Baldock has waved brother Sam goodbye as he headed for pastures new, spent time on loan in this country and in Iceland and switched where he plies his trade on the pitch.

But without many first team opportunities since he made his first start, Baldock knew something had to change if he was to pull on a Dons shirt again.

“It has been a period with a lot of highs and lows,” he said after the Oldham game. “This season, after a lot of hard work, I’ve come in to my own.

“I knew I had to work hard in the summer to get a place in the team. If I was as good as I was last year, I wouldn’t be playing here, I’d be out on loan somewhere.

“It’s all down to Damien Doyle, the gaffer and Gary Waddock who pushed me to my limits. It was vital to be honest.

“I’ve said all along, when the gaffer said I was going to be a right back, that we bring different things to the side. I’m learning things every day. I hope to develop into a good full back.”

The 20-year-old has emerged this season as an attack-minded full-back, after telling assistant boss Gary Waddock he wanted to play there after a pre-season friendly with Birmingham last summer.

And in the absence of Lee Hodson, who might need an operation to an injury which could rule him out for the rest of the season, Baldock has impressed in Karl Robinson’s new-look defence.

Baldock said: “I don’t wish anyone to have an injury like that, and me and Lee are good friends off the pitch too. But he might not have the operation, so I might not be back in the team.

“It’s down to me. I hope to keep the shirt, but I know how good Lee is so I’ve always got to be on my A-game.

“Two games doesn’t make a good player. Lee Hodson has been very consistent.”

But Baldock is making it hard for Robinson to drop him. After his impressive display at Bradford was cut short with a knee and ankle injury, the 20-year-old added goals to his game on Tuesday night, blasting Dons into an early lead as they beat Oldham 2-1.

“It all happened so quickly and I can’t remember it!” he said trying to remember his goal.

“I’ll give Izale the assist. If it wasn’t it was very, very lucky that way it fell to me.

“I won’t stand here and tell you I’ve whipped it in - I just smashed it to be honest!

“We could have been even further ahead, Reeves hit the post just before half time. We knew it would be different in the second half.

“It was a good atmosphere. I’m not used to being in such volatile atmospheres to be honest, but it was quite good! We rode the storm and came out the other side.

“I was gutted to come off against Bradford. The treatment team worked really hard with me and the lads rallied around me. I was just delighted to play.”