Lewie backs young defenders to come good

Jack Hendry has made seven appearances for Dons since signing from Wigan on deadline day.
Jack Hendry has made seven appearances for Dons since signing from Wigan on deadline day.

Defenders Jack Hendry and Paul Downing will only improve with experience, says captain Dean Lewington.

Hendry, on loan from Wigan, and Downing, who joined from Walsall in the summer, have struggled at times to adapt to Dons' style since coming in to the first team.

Paul Downing suffered a head injury against former club Walsall

Paul Downing suffered a head injury against former club Walsall

With Joe Walsh also suffering similar problems since becoming a first team regular at the beginning of 2016, and losing both Antony Kay and Kyle McFadzean in the summer, defensive errors have been critical in Dons' downfall in the last 11 months.

Lewington though has backed both Hendry and Downing to find their feet and come good.

"They're both new to the club, they're new to how we play and what's being asked of them," he said. "But week on week they're improving. They're always getting better.

"They're both younger than we really realise. This is Jack's first real consistent run of games at this level, and sometimes you'd like a bit more experience next to him to help guide him.

"But Paul is also young, and they're learning together. With Joe there as well, we've got three young centre halves playing together, and hopefully they'll only improve.

"You build partnerships, you get an intuition about players. It hasn't been too unsettled, but you've also got to look up at who is protecting the back four.

"We've got Potts, Ed and Samir, who have had injuries and suspensions. We've always classed it as a back six, and those relationships are vital too.

"There have been mistakes in there, but the consistency is something you don't always get. It would be nice to get that settled and try and improve to help us cut out those mistakes."

While the problems appear to be through the middle of the park, full-back Lewington has said he won't be stepping inside any time soon.

He said: "For me, going to left back to centre back... I wouldn't say I hate it but it's very difficult. If you do it well, it's made to look easy.

"You never settle, you've always got to be aware of the ball over the top, and any mistake leads to a goal. You've got to be solid and strong, but win headers, and also be good with the ball at your feet and pass it out. You've got to balance those. It takes the centre halves time to settle in, and take the philosophy in."