CHARLIE MacDonald is determined to win back his place in the MK Dons starting line-up, and believes his winner against Yeovil is the ideal way of doing it.
Summer signing Ryan Lowe has been picked ahead of the 31-year-old for most of the season so far, but the striker made a good case for himself with his second half winner at stadium:mk on Saturday, and now wants to start against Notts County on Tuesday night.
But while he might not enjoy the competition for places, MacDonald knows that having more options up front gives the team more of a chance of getting to where they need to be at the end of the season.
“Competition is healthy at a club,” he said. “Is it a battle at the moment? I’m not sure because Ryan Lowe’s got the shirt. It’s my job now to do what I can to get it off him, and give the gaffer something to think about.
“I want to play games. I’m 31-years-old, and I don’t want to be sitting on the bench. The manager knows that, and he knows no-one else wants to be a substitute either. It’s healthy, but we’ve just got to bide our time and scoring the winner today won’t have done me any harm.
“It’s a squad game at the end of the day and if we’re going to go all the way, we need everyone doing their bit. I’ve started only one league game this season and was sacrificed after 20 minutes when Alan Smith got sent off at Bournemouth.
“I was in the right place at the right time last season, and ended up with the most assists too so from a form point of view, I didn’t score as many goals as I wanted but I was adding to the team.
“I’ve not had as much game time as I’d have liked this season, but the gaffer is there for a reason – he makes the decisions as to who plays and who doesn’t. I’ve just got to make sure I come on and make an impact to get into that starting 11.”
MacDonald’s goal, his first in 19 games, came at a vital time as Dons missed chance after chance to put a lackluster Yeovil side to bed.
Latching on to Dean Lewington’s ball over the top, MacDonald had plenty of time to control the ball and pick his spot past Marek Stech in the Yeovil goal.
He admitted: “I was quite surprised about how much time I was given to be honest. There’s normally someone who will come back across and I’d have to take a snap shot. But I was able to take two or three touches before placing it where I wanted to.
“We’ve played some great football, but to score from a long ball onto a run like that is great because we created a lot of chances.
“Defensively we’ve been brilliant in the league. Even when we had a few red cards, we have still only let in the odd goal. We just need to make sure we’re more ruthless.
“It doesn’t matter who that front four is, we need to put away those chances. If it would have ended 0-0, we’d have got a huge rollocking off the manager because of the chances we created and it’s out job to convert them. As a striker, you have to make sure you finish them off.”
MacDonald could have doubled his season’s tally in the last minute when Luke Chadwick slipped him the ball to roll home into the empty net, but celebrations were cut short courtesy of the linesman’s flag. The striker suggested replays showed he was onside.
He said: “I’d have probably shot, but looking at the replay and seeing I was onside – I feel like I’ve lost £1,000! To score the winner is great, but to get two would have been brilliant.
“I feel the linesman has made a few dodgy decisions, but that one was a huge blow.”
As is so often the case, a striker will go on a barren run before discovering a purple patch, banging in goals left right and centre. And while MacDonald hopes he can find the net plenty more in the next few weeks, he’s aiming for a place in the starting line-up first and foremost.
He said: “I’m hoping there’s a few more games to be honest! Once you score and you’re up and running, you want to maintain that run.
“I just want to get on the pitch and play football, that’s why I’m here. If I get my time on the pitch and I get the chances, I’m sure I’ll be on the end of a lot more than I’m not.”