Robbo knows Dons aren’t quite set yet

Dons in training
Dons in training

There is still work to be done off the field before Karl Robinson feels his MK Dons side will be ready to get back on it for the first game of the season.

With League 1 set to kick off in less than two weeks time, the Dons boss isn’t convinced his squad is big enough to withstand the tests and tribulations of a 10 month campaign.

On Sunday, Robinson looked across the technical area towards Nottingham Forest’s packed bench, and couldn’t help but feel a bit envious.

But while he’s still in the market for at least three new faces before the transfer window closes at the end of August, Robinson admits it was a conscious decision to employ a smaller squad.

He said: “This is how we want to run the football club. I’d rather have a quality than a lot of players.

“It was daunting when you looked across at Nottingham Forest, who are only one league above us, and compared the size of our squads.

“I believe every footballer at this club has a lot of talent. That’s how we choose to managed the budget.

“The club is going in the right direction, but if we get a lot of injuries, we will be very short. That’s why it’s so important that I get these players in, to give us a bit more strength in depth.”

And one potential signing - a third striker - sounds like it isn’t too far off from being confirmed.

“We spoke to his advisers, we’ve closing in on personal terms with him,” said Robinson. “We’ve agreed terms with his club too, and manager to manager.

“We just hope we can get him here by the end of the week for a medical.”

Robinson has always operated within a small, densely packed squad.

Since this time last year, the list of players to have left stadium:mk is like a who’s who of first team regulars - Izale McLeod, Alan Smith, Stephen Gleeson, Shaun Williams, Gary MacKenzie, Adam Chicksen, and loanees Patrick Bamford and Samir Carruthers.

Now standing at the dawn of his fifth season in charge, Robinson’s squad, by his own admission, isn’t on par with the one he had 12 months ago.

He said: “Numerically yes (Dons are weaker). At the start of last season, we probably looked a lot stronger.

“It’s a massive transition. We’re younger, the contracts are right, and there has been a lot of manoeuvring behind the scene.

“We have been very productive in the last six months.

“The squad is shaping up, but we’re not there yet. Ideally I’d have another striker, another quick wide player, cover in midfield and cover at centre half.

“If I had all of them, I’d be very happy for the rest of the season.

“The chairman has been excellent this summer. Together with Andy Cullen, and the recruitment team, we’ve been very creative.”

With two more pre-season testers to come before the visit of Gillingham on August 9, Robinson still has plenty of time to get his stall in order.

But while some fans roll their eyes at seemingly ever-lasting pre-season campaigns, Robinson says he gets more nervous prior to the season than when he’s stood on the touchline on opening day.

He said: “You feel more tense and fear at this stage. It’s the fear of not knowing where we’re going to be.

“Once it’s started, you’re in the mix and in the hamster wheel for 10 months.

“There will be times where I’m sat in the dugout soaked through, hail coming down, maybe losing 1-0 and all the panics that come with it.

“But there’s no feeling like winning in the league.”