There may yet be a few familiar faces back at MK Dons as they kick off their first game in the Championship next season.
The full-time whistle on Sunday not only saw Dons promoted to the second tier, but also signalled the end of loan deals for the likes of Dele Alli (Tottenham), Lewis Baker (Chelsea), Rob Hall (Bolton), Devante Cole (Manchester City) and top scorer Will Grigg (Brentford).
Having already declared an interest in signing Grigg on a permanent deal this summer, manager Karl Robinson said moves are already afoot to bring back some of the stars who helped the club win promotion in the second half of the season.
“We’d like Lewis Baker back - we’d like all of the loan players back,” said the Dons boss.
When asked if he’d made approached to bring back some of his outward-bound loan players for the next campaign, he said: “Sort of... we’ve made one or two enquiries over some players, but some of them are still in party mode! For us to make a logical or calculated decision at the moment would be very difficult!
“We’d like a number of the players back next season. And we’ve also started contract talks with our existing players. They’ve been going on for two weeks.
“I need six players. Two strikers, two wingers, two midfield players. “
Robinson’s primary stumbling block though could be, once again, a lack of big money to go out and attract top talent.
Despite having one of the smaller budgets in the top 10 in League 1, Dons secured automatic promotion with the help of some astute moves in the loan market.
For next season, Robinson feels the money he has to work with could make life difficult for the club to attract the right type of player, but he’s hopeful he and his recruitment team can ‘work miracles’ again.
He said: “It’ll be difficult, but we’ve worked miracles before, so I’m sure we can do it again.
“I’m sure we’ll get a good pick of a talented pond of players. But we’ve got to look for new areas of development, and club’s we’ve not used before.
“And for the friends we’ve made over the years, maybe we’ll help them develop some talented players.”
One player who he doesn’t expect back at stadium:mk though is Dele Alli.
The popular teenager signed for Tottenham in the January transfer window, but was loaned back to stadium:mk for the remainder of the season. With the season now over, Robinson believes Alli has played his last game for Dons, with his mind totally focussed on breaking into the first team at White Hart Lane.
He said: “Dele wants to play for Tottenham in their first team. He’s really excited. He wants to play for Spurs in the Premier League.
“If the manager says otherwise, we would be open to bringing him back. I’ll carry him up the M1!”