Dons are beginning to see the best of Joe Walsh
Joe Walsh feels he as put a frustrating first year at MK Dons behind him and is now showing what he's capable of.
Despite signing for Dons in March 2015, initially on loan from Crawley before making it a permanent move that summer, Walsh didn't really make an impression on the first team until January 2016 when he got a run in the side.
Injury to his knee ruled him out for the best part of 2015, and the first half of Dons' Championship campaign but once he returned, found himself a regular alongside either Kyle McFadzean or Antony Kay in the second half.
After the departure of the pair last summer though, Walsh has stepped up to being the leader at the heart of the defence and believes Dons fans are finally seeing the best of him.
"When I first came in on loan, the boys were doing really well," he said. "Kyle McFadzean and Antony Kay were playing really well together, and I think I only played two games at left back. I did all right but I got injured in my second game and it kept me out of the team for the rest of the season.
"Then I did well in pre-season but got injured again and was out for a long time. But since it has cleared up, it's all good. I think I'm playing well too."
His performances have seen him called-up to the Welsh international squad, as well as being one of the first names on the MK Dons team sheet.
But while he has found consistency in his play, Dons have struggled to keep a regular partner alongside him. Scott Wootton played just four times before suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury, ruling him out for the season, while Paul Downing and Jack Hendry have struggled for form, though the former now seems to have found his feet again.Walsh said: "It's important to have a consistent back four, but if someone gets injured, you need cover. It's always nice to have a regular playing partner at centre back, but it is what it is and you've got to get on with it."
And though Dons remain battling at the wrong end of the League 1 table, Walsh believes the introduction of new boss Robbie Neilson has given the squad a new lease of life, though they are still getting used to his preferred ways.
"He has lifted everyone, given us more confidence," Walsh added. "The training has gone up, the intensity is up so everyone is getting fitter. We're still in the middle of it so it will all come good."