HEAD-TO-HEAD: Dons look to continue their Boxing Day form

Boxing Day has been kind to MK Dons in the past, and they'll look to continue that this year against Charlton Athletic.

Friday, 23rd December 2016, 1:57 pm
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 3:01 pm
Dean Bowditch scored in extra time against Charlton earlier this month

Dons and Charlton will play for the third time in a month tomorrow (Monday), with Karl Robinson making his second return to Stadium MK since his departure back in October.

Boxing Day form has been good on the whole for Dons. In their last five outings on December 26, Dons have won four games - two at home and two away.

Robbie Neilson confirmed his side will be training today (Christmas Day), in preparation for the busy Christmas period and knows the game against Charlton will be a tough one, given how neither side could be separated in their FA Cup second round clash - needing extra time in the replay for Dons to win 3-1.

Since Robinson's arrival at The Valley, he is yet to win a match for his new side, while Neilson has won two of his four matches - both at Stadium MK,

But even after winning their first league match at home in more than nine months against AFC two weeks ago, Neilson isn't expecting a banker against the Addicks.

He said: "I think getting the monkey off our backs a few weeks ago has made a big difference, confidence-wise, but we’ve got a long way to go. It’s still only one win at home in god-knows how many games. But by no means does this make it a banker.

"Even in the FA Cup game, yes we won it but it went to extra time so it shows how close the two teams are.

"Lookman was really good here, and I know he’s been shifted left and right. Whether they can keep him in January is another question because I know there’s been a lot of interest in him, but they’ve got real threats up front too. Defensively it’ll be a really tough game."

After the FA Cup replay, Robinson said he felt his side were 'by far the better' in 90 minutes, but couldn't find a winner before Ben Reeves and Dean Bowditch netted in extra time to send Dons through to the third round.

Robinson's comments raised a few eyebrows among Dons supporters, but Neilson said he wasn't too concerned by what his predecessor said.

"I didn’t read it," Neilson admitted. "After a game is done, I’m not going to sit down and analyse what other people say about it. A manager can say what he wants, all that matters is what the scoresheet says and that’s all anybody cares about. What was said was said, it’s not an issue to me at all.

"I didn’t know Karl before. We had a chat, we went into the office after the game. That happens in football: people leave, people come back. That’s life as a football manager. You just deal with the club you’re at, and if you end up coming back, you hope you can come back to a good relationship and Karl has that here."

Dons will have to reshuffle their defence for the game. Dean Lewington, who has spent time playing at centre back under Neilson, is likely to return to left back as Joe Walsh comes back from an ankle injury, while George Baldock looks set to miss the entire Christmas period after hobbling off against Gillingham last Saturday.

Neilson confirmed: "Walsh will come back, Baldock is still struggling though, so we will probably be without him for the next two, maybe three games. It’s a slight hamstring tweak. We’re disappointed to lose him, but fortunately it’s not too serious."