Dons do business early during the transfer window - will it be enough?
The transfer deadline looks set to pass MK Dons by without any further action.
Andrew Fisher's arrival to the goalkeeping unit at Stadium MK was the only movement in Russell Martin's squad on deadline day, despite a lot of huffing and puffing. Martin was hanging his hat on seeing some of his superfluous squad members departing. Not unwanted in the Dons dressing room, but with the new manager seeing things differently to Paul Tisdale, who build the squad over the summer, there was always going to be some fallout. However, aside from Brennan Dickenson's move to Exeter earlier this month, there were no further outgoings.
Concerns about the budget will fall short of the mark, with the club unlikely to have spent outside of their means, though their hefty squad will certainly have to be trimmed down at the end of the season, especially some big earners not even making matchday squads at the moment.
A lot of the business was done early, with Carlton Morris, Ben Gladwin and Louis Thompson all arriving in the middle of January. Fisher's signature was secured on deadline day, but the keeper is likely to have been draughted in as cover for the cover, with Stuart Moore potentially securing a loan move for the remainder of the season.
Martin, speaking on the morning of deadline day, said he was more than happy with the squad at his disposal had he not been able to conduct any further business. And for now, the squad is showing all the signs of easing themselves away from the relegation zone. But Martin will have eyes for the future.
Though this window was all about short-term fixes and making sure Dons did all they could to be in the best shape to shake off the battle against the drop, the manager will already be looking to the summer window and beyond to get Dons into shape for the coming years. For Martin, his initial objective was immediate, but he did not become manager for the short term, and his early moves in the transfer window have shown his contacts book to be full of potential, and that only stands his summer recruits in good stead. Morris, Gladwin and Thompson have all spoken highly of Martin's ideals in how he wants to see Dons play, and an attractive style will attract the right sort of players come the end of the current campaign.
Few who have watched Dons certainly since December will consider the team to be as genuine relegation contender, but to say they are out of the fight would be tempting fate. Six points clear of Tranmere now, Martin has a cushion to continue Dons on their way, knowing even defeat to promotion hopefuls Wycombe on Saturday will not see them back in the bottom three. And with his four signings, he has bolstered on both the pitch and in the dressing room, the latter of which he highlighted in particular as an area he needed more characters.
The January window seldom defines a club's season, but Dons, at least for now, appear to have conducted some shrewd business and even if the squad is bigger than he would like, Martin has plenty of players at his disposal should the worst happen, and then it happen again. The next window though will be far more important for the club, but will also offer Martin more freedom to build what he perceives the long term future to look like.