Have MK Dons said goodbye to Dean Lewington for the final time?
For nearly 10 years, he has been the first player on the pitch, and on Saturday, with Stadium MK empty bar a few friends and family, Dean Lewington was the last to leave it - but was it for the final time?
The Dons skipper, leader, and often talisman faces an uncertain future, with his contract set to expire at the end of the season, and for the first time since the infamous relocation, Milton Keynes could be watching a side without him.
Comfortably out in front in terms of appearances for Dons, Lewington has missed just a handful of games down the years, and his one-club career so far has made him synonymous with everything MK Dons stands for. He is still very much the face of the club.
Now 32, Lewington is in the twilight of his career, but racking up another 40+ appearances this season show he’s just as important to the side as he ever was - so should he be given a new contract?
While he hasn’t been afforded the option as much as he would have liked this season, manager Robbie Neilson has been keen to instigate a three-at-the-back formation since his arrival in December.
In his first game in charge, the 1-0 win over AFC Wimbledon at Stadium MK, Lewington was deployed at centre back to watch over the aerial threat of Tom Elliot, which he did in emphatic style.
But his public dislike for playing at the heart of the defence could yet be his downfall. With Neilson keen to employ quick and mobile wing-backs, which in the form of Georges Williams and Baldock he already has at his disposal, the skipper’s shortcomings could be highlighted in the first incarnation of the manager’s Dons blueprint.
And with Scott Wootton’s return due next season and the versatile Williams also proving very capable at centre back, Neilson already has options across the back line.
If Saturday was to be Lewington’s final appearance in Milton Keynes, it would be a cruel and unfitting manner to bid farewell to the man who has literally done everything with and for the club.
Already disposing of Dons veterans David Martin and Darren Potter, Neilson has shown he’s not afraid of making the big decisions.
But with someone of Lewington’s stature, the club surely couldn’t let him walk off into the sunset without one final hurrah, could it?