Robbo is delighted to be back at work

Karl Robinson shares a laugh with Gary Waddock
Karl Robinson shares a laugh with Gary Waddock

There’s still more than a month to go before the start of the season, but Karl Robinson is excited to be back on the training ground.

His players returned to pre-season training this week as they attempt, to achieve the holy grail at last - promotion to the Championship.

There’s no shying away from the disappointment of last season, which is still fresh in everyone’s mind despite it finishing more than two months ago.

But Robinson was upbeat, smiling and happy on the first day back at Woughton with batteries recharged.

“I’ve had a great break,” he said. “It has been hard for me, and there have been a number of things I’ve had to deal with while I was away - speaking to players, agents, sorting things out, but the players are looking fresh, they’re excited and raring to go. It’s a good time for everyone.

“There’s a lot of talk and hype around a lot of clubs at the moment. We’re just pleased to be part of a youthful club.

“There will be a different level of intensity from us this year.

“I like pre-season. I like the fact that new partnerships are formed, different things can be instilled into the group and you see it come together slowly. It’s a good time.

“They’ve all come back in better condition than before. And they’re looking ahead of schedule.

“Dean Bowditch is having a test on his groin, so we have to make sure he’s right.

“It’s good to see them all. They’re boisterous - bordering on being a nuisance! It’s one of the first times they’ve been back together.”

Not many fans would have predicted at the end of the season seeing Gary MacKenzie, Shaun Williams and Stephen Gleeson all together again for the first day of training.

Williams and MacKenzie have both extended deals taken up by the club though, certainly in the case of MacKenzie, rumours of a step up to Championship level remain on the cards before the first balls are kicked in August.

Robinson sounded almost resigned to losing the Scottish defender to Paul Ince’s Blackpool, with whom he spent the last three months of last season on loan.

Robinson said: “We all want to keep him here, but we can’t stand in the way of their progression.

“You have to be respectful, and he’s only got 12 months left on his contract.

“I think the world of Gary, and he has been a tremendous asset, but like everybody, there’s a time to move on.

“As we sit now though, he’s an MK Dons player.”

With three transfer deals waiting just around the corner, it remains to be seen whether Robinson can realise his, and the club’s dream at the fourth time of asking. And it all starts here.