KARL Robinson still won’t admit his side have effectively cemented themselves in the League One play-offs, despite now having a commanding lead over the chasing pack.
Saturday’s 1-0 victory at Swindon Town, coupled with defeats for both Rochdale and Leyton Orient, means Dons are seven points clear of eighth place, with just 12 points left on offer to their rivals.
And with games left against bottom side Plymouth Argyle and relegation threatened Notts County still to come, securing a place in the top six should be just a formality for Dons. However, the manager won’t be drawn into any talk of foregone conclusions until the job is mathematically done.
He said: “We will not say that we’re there yet because we’re still a long way from it, so not until it is impossible for us to miss out will I come out and say that we are there. I’d be naïve and stupid to do otherwise.
“We have always gone about our job in a classy, professional way, which has allowed us to sit quite pretty. But that doesn’t mean anything until May 7 and you are cemented in that top six. And until then, our season is well short of where we want to be.”
Despite that, Robinson says the club have been planning for an extended season for a number of months.
“We always planned for the play-offs, and our backroom staff have been preparing for a long time now, because you can’t just turn up for them,” he said.
“We’ve studied past teams who have been successful, looked at how they’ve gone into them, and how they’ve rested players going into games. And we’ll have that in the back of our minds.”
However, in the forefront of their minds will be their Good Friday clash with fellow promotion chasers Huddersfield Town. The teams met at the Galpharm Stadium back in November where Dons were handed a second consecutive 4-1 thumping – following that by Sheffield Wednesday – but Robinson is sure there will be no repeat of the performance his side produced in west Yorkshire.
“It was a weird game at Huddersfield,” he said. “We probably had the best of the first 15 minutes and then capitulated for the next hour when we just couldn’t cope with them.
“We finished strongly, but by that point it was effectively game over and they let off in their performance as well.
“Lee Clark is a manager I respect an awful lot – when we beat Peterborough recently he was one of the first to text me to say what a great performance it was, and that shows you the quality of the man.
“They’ve been amongst it for the last two years and he has done a wonderful job, so it should be a great game.”
But despite winning their last two games, Dons, by Robinson’s own admission, are not currently playing at the top of their game – a testament he puts down to the confidence of the squad heading into the final stage of the season.
“I don’t think we have been playing at our best, but we have beaten two good teams in Swindon and Carlisle.
“We have set our own standards - I read a number of reports saying we gave a strong and disciplined display with players getting good marks, yet we’re saying it wasn’t good enough!
“We have this confidence about us that we can walk into any ground in the country and walk away with the fans saying what a good team we are.
“Rochdale fans said it, Southampton fans said it, and we just want to walk out of that stadium with that tag. But the most crucial things are results and points, which we are getting in abundance at the moment.”