KARL Robinson has been sleeping easier at night with the return of Luke Chadwick.
The 32-year-old was ruled out for two months with a knee injury, but returned to action two weeks ago in the 3-1 defeat away at Oldham.
But since his return to the midfield, Dons have looked stable again and his manager is delighted to have him back in the fold.
Robinson said: “He encapsulates everything I love about football. He’s graceful, he’s classy, and he cares. For young footballers out there, what a role model he is. When you’re a role model, that’s the highest accolade a footballer can get, on or off the pitch.
“He’s an amazing dad and husband, he keeps his family life very private. But he comes in here, he works harder than anyone else and he likes being here.
“He’s sometimes a bit shy coming forward, but having him back makes me sleep a bit easier at night.”
Another player who he can’t wait to have back is Stephen Gleeson. Both he and Chadwick got injured on the same day in December, and both were ruled out for the long term.
Gleeson’s broken foot is now out of the protective boot and he is starting to take the first tentative steps back towards the training ground.
And while Robinson isn’t putting a time frame on the 24-year-old’s return, he thinks the team have missed the Irishman on and off the pitch.
“He’s out of the boot and he’s starting to kick a ball again,” Robinson said. “He’s got that look back on his face because he knows he’s not far away. I don’t want to put any pressure on him by giving him a time frame of when he’s going to be back.
“It’s frustrating for us all, but even more for him not to be playing. He committed his future to this club in the summer. He’s been a big loss.
“He’s not shy, he’s the opposite of Chaddy in that way and he’ll tell you when something’s not right! But if he was out on that pitch, he’d be pointing a few fingers too.
“Him and Darren Potter are the best midfielders in the league. I told him he needed to add goals to his game and become a better player, and he was starting to do that. We miss him as a person. He’s a great boy.
“He’s the player I’m most proud of too. I’ve seen a big transformation in his life. And when you transform your life, things out on the pitch tend to follow suit.”