HEAD-TO-HEAD: Walsh is the key to Dons defence

Richie Barker believes MK Dons are beginning to see the best of defender Joe Walsh.

Thursday, 24th November 2016, 4:01 pm
Updated Tuesday, 29th November 2016, 10:41 am
Barker believes Dons are beginning to see the best of Joe Walsh

Having made in excess of 40 appearances for the club since signing March 2015, Walsh has been thrust in as Dons' most experienced centre back, alongside either Paul Downing or more recently Jack Hendry.

Walsh's performances earned him a call-up to the Wales squad earlier this month, backed up by two excellent displays against Bristol Rovers and Chesterfield on his return to Dons.

Barker worked with Walsh at Crawley before both moved to Milton Keynes, and believes Dons fans are beginning to see the best of the Welshman.

"I'm starting to see the Joe Walsh I had at Crawley," said Barker. "Hopefully now, everyone else is seeing that too.

"It took him a while to find his feet here. He represented his country - one that made it to the semi-finals of the European Championships. And he's been included in that.

"I'd like to think it was based on his performances, rather than playuers dropping out. But there were others out there, and he was called up."

His performance on the road at Bristol Rovers last Saturday was stand-out as Dons weathered a late storm at the Memorial Stadium to pick up their first clean sheet since October 1.

And this weekend could be a similar battle as they take on similarly troubled Coventry at the Ricoh Arena.

Coventry, like Dons, made a decent start to the season, only for the wheels to fall off after a difficult end to the transfer window.

With three defeats in a row, they currently sit just one place and one point above Dons on the brink of the League 1 relegation zone, but have an enviable home record - losing just once to league leaders Scunthorpe.

Dons head to the Ricoh Arena for just the third time, having never won there, but know beating the Sky Blues will see them climb out of the bottom four.

Barker said: "Every week is an opportunity. We've come up against Sheffield United - one fo the best teams in the league - and it was an opportunity, and we only lost to a late goal. Our team, on their day, can compete with everyone.

"But Coventry are in and around us, so we'll be preparing the best we can, and trying to lift the players. Tuesday night was a big blow to them."