NEW signing Shaun Williams could have been playing for Dons as early as January had a transfer to Scottish Premier League giants Glasgow Celtic been completed.
The 24-year-old, who signed for Dons last week on a free transfer, had two bids for him turned down by former club Sporting Fingal, before the Irish club went out of business a month later.
Celtic manager Neil Lennon, a friend of Dons boss Karl Robinson, offered him the chance of a loan spell in Milton Keynes if the sale went ahead. But following the demise of Fingal, Williams was released and snapped up by Robinson instead.
“Fingal turned down two bids from Lennon at Celtic,” said Williams. “But then the club went out of business. It was a shame that the move never came off.
“We had talks with the club and had a three-year deal all planned out, and a loan period with MK Dons was part of that. But the offers were turned down. I’m not saying that’s the reason they folded, but it certainly would have helped them out a bit!”
Dons and Williams are currently waiting on FIFA confirmation on whether or not he is allowed to kick a ball in anger for his new club this season, or whether he will have to wait until August to taste first team football again.
“We’re just waiting at the moment,” he said. “I know the club have asked the question, but I just want to get back out there playing again. I haven’t played since the end of the Irish season back in October.”
Williams became a free agent when former club Sporting Fingal ceased trading in February because of financial difficulties. Fingal - just like Dons - only recently formed and took Irish football by storm when, as a team outside the top flight, they won the FAI Cup - the Irish equivalent of the FA Cup - qualifying them for the preliminary rounds of the Europa League.
Williams said: “It was a great time for us. We played Maritimo from Portugal - a very good side. We lost both legs 3-2, but we gave a good account of ourselves and it was an amazing experience.”
His performances on the pitch for Sporting earned him the club captaincy and impressed his peers enough to see him voted the 2010 Players’ Football Association of Ireland (PFAI) Young Player of the Year award, earning him the attention of Celtic boss Lennon.
Making a Dons debut of sorts, Williams played the first half of last week’s friendly game against The Glenn Hoddle Academy, but has not kicked a ball in competitive action since the Irish season ended five months ago.
“It was good to get back out on the pitch again to get the legs going,” said Willliams. “I lasted 45 minutes and didn’t feel too badly afterwards, but I just want to get back out on the pitch as soon as possible.”
With Dons flying high in League One, Williams believes, from what he has seen from his team-mates so far, that they are good enough to go up.
He said: “The lads are in the play-off places at the moment, so there’s no reason why promotion can’t be on the cards. If I get the chance to play, I hope I can give them a boost as we get towards the end of the season. If not, I’ll have to wait until August to get back out on the pitch again.”
Meanwhile, Rowan Vine’s loan deal has been extended until April 22. The forward joined Dons in January, but will not be able to take part in any play-off action, should Robinson’s men make it.