Nicholls is ready for the responsibility of being Dons' number one

Nicholls shared a good relationship with former Dons number 1 David Martin
Nicholls shared a good relationship with former Dons number 1 David Martin

Performances like his man of the match showing against Wigan Athletic on Saturday will go a long way to helping Lee Nicholls fill the big boots left behind by David Martin.

The 24-year-old shot stopper was in excellent form in the season opener, despite the 1-0 reverse against the Latics, making key saves from Michael Jacobs and Ivan Toney to keep his side in the game.

Lee Nicholls

Lee Nicholls

It was a bold manoeuvre from boss Robbie Neilson to remove Martin Dons' long standing number 1 in April last season. Having made in excess of 300 appearances in seven seasons at Stadium MK, Martin was established, a fan favourite, contributed a lot off the pitch as well as on it.

Used in cup competitions under Karl Robinson, Nicholls made just three appearances under Neilson until injury to Martin gave the Liverpudlian a chance to prove himself in April, and so he did. So much so, when Martin returned to fitness, Nicholls had done enough to keep his starting place until the end of the season, playing the last seven games of the campaign as Dons secured a top half finish.

With Martin's departure in the summer, Nicholls' ascent was confirmed, taking with it the squad number and indeed the responsibility it bears.

"I've got big shoes to fill," Nicholls said. "Dave was a fan's favourite. I worked with him a lot and we both helped improve each other's games. Hopefully, for the fans and the club I can play well.

"I hope that Dave does well - I know he hasn't got a club yet - but for me I just have to keep hitting my targets and move forward.

"I've worked hard for it over the last 12 months, but it was just another game - it didn't matter about the number on my back or the opposition.

"I'm in goal, it's my job, I'm always ready for the next save."