HE may have been away on tour in the Republic of Ireland, but Karl Robinson has not stopped searching for the final pieces of his Dons jigsaw ahead of their new League 1 season.
The first team squad returned to England on Wednesday after successfully seeing off Leinster Senior League side Bangor Celtic and League of Ireland Premier Division side Drogheda United, both 2-1 in friendly matches.
Trialist Jay O’Shea has done his chances of earning a deal at stadium:mk no harm by scoring the opening goal against Bangor, adding to his strike at St Neots in Dons’ opening pre-season friendly.
But Robinson is yet to make up his mind on former Birmingham City man O’Shea and three other trialists as he continues to look for new additions to his first team squad – currently 18 strong.
Despite being based in Dublin for 10 days, Robinson, assistant boss John Gorman and head of recruitment Paul Mitchell have been taking in several matches, including watching top Premier League sides in action, trying to spot potential loan targets.
And while four trialists joined the squad at their training camp in Ireland, Robinson said he will not discuss any potential deals with the players for at least the next few days.
O’Shea was joined by defenders John Dunleavy and Carl Magnay, and goalkeeper Ian McLoughlin in Dublin, but despite impressing Robinson all are yet to open talks about signing for the club.
“We don’t want to rush into anything,” said Robinson. “We need to talk to the players about how things have gone and will not rush into any decisions.
“They have all done really well but we won’t make a song and dance of things just yet.
“We’ve been working non-stop searching for players, and that was never going to stop because we were in Ireland.
“It’s still full-steam ahead. I’ve met with agents and spoken to managers about bringing players in – it’s been a productive week.”
Despite the modest opposition they faced in Ireland, Robinson is pleased with the way his players performed, and that they have come through unscathed.
He said: “It’s tough being away from your family and kids for a long time, so the squad has done really well. But we’re eager to get back and back into the routine at home.
“Pre-season training is of the utmost importance. We work the players hard to get their fitness levels to where we need them to be.
“Last year, I think the fitness levels we had at the end of the season gave us the edge in many games – and that’s all down to what we do before the season starts.”
But there will be hardly any rest for the players as they face their next pre-season fixture on Saturday against Oxford United, and there could be a familiar face lining up in yellow.
Peter Leven signed a two-year deal with the League 2 outfit two weeks ago after turning down an offer to remain at stadium:mk, and Robinson admitted to being shocked when he heard where the Scot had turned up.
“Him going down to League 2 was a bit of a surprise to me,” he said. “But that’s the decision he made.
“We wish him the best of luck over there, but it’s a shame he didn’t want to continue with us.”
Dons take on Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium at 3pm and then welcome Tottenham Hotspur to town on Tuesday.