HEAD-TO-HEAD: Aneke to be handed his first start in six months in Checkatrade clash

Chuks Aneke
Chuks Aneke

Chuks Aneke will make his long-awaited return on Tuesday night when MK Dons take on Stevenage in the Checkatrade Trophy.

Aneke has missed the last six months with a hamstring injury, but made his first team comeback on Saturday in the 2-0 win over Bury.

His six minute cameo was great news for Dons fans and indeed manager Robbie Neilson, who confirmed the 24-year-old would be in the starting line-up at Stadium MK on Tuesday night.

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"You saw the difference he makes when he came on," said Neilson after the win at Gigg Lane. "If we can get a run of games for him, players will know he can secure the ball and they can run off him.

"He's top level for us. The key is keeping him fit. The medical staff have worked so hard to get him to this level, but we want 20, 30, 40 minutes out of him. He's too key a player for us to lose him again.

"He will start on Tuesday against Stevenage, but we will look at his game time. We'll see whether he makes it to half time. But we'll also see Nesbitt, Muirhead, McGrandles and lads like that."

Defender Ethan Ebanks-Landell added: "He will be massive - he's the strongest player I've ever played with, and I've played with some big lads. You immediately saw what he is capable of doing.

"He needs to get his fitness back, but the more games he gets, the more the performances will come and he'll be a massive asset for us."

The much-maligned Checkatrade Trophy has drawn criticism from fans since the introduction of Premier League and Championship U21s sides. In their first group game, Dons comfortably overcame Brighton U21s 2-0, and are are undefeated in four games heading into the second game against Stevenage on Tuesday.

League 2 side Stevenage come to Stadium MK having won their last three, moving them to sixth in the table. But Darren Sarll's men took a 6-2 hammering at the hands of Oxford United in their first Checkatrade Trophy match back in August.

The two sides have met in this tournament before - with Stevenage emerging victorious from their 2013 meeting at Broadhall Way - but Dons have won three of the last four matches between the two.