Houghton's happy to be the unsung hero in MK Dons' midfield
Jordan Houghton's role on the field was never more evident than it has been in MK Dons' last two home games - but it can go very much unnoticed.
Sitting in front of the defence, Houghton is often the first man to receive a pass from keeper Lee Nicholls as Dons play out from the back. As Houghton attracts the attention of one, two or sometimes three opposition players, he shifts the ball back again, and Dons can counter in the space he has helped create. Sometimes only playing short passes, his role can go under the radar, not that he minds.
However, many fans hailed his performance in the 3-0 win over Bristol Rovers as the best on the pitch. And having already sparkled over Christmas in the 3-1 win over Portsmouth, Houghton's influence on the side is on the up again.
His role is one Dons have not seen regularly since the departure of Darren Potter. "The Potter role" was a mainstay under Karl Robinson, and was equally important at the time, if also overlooked.
Houghton though does not mind whether his influence on games is overshadowed by more headline-grabbing performances, as long as he impresses his manager.
"There are 11 players on the pitch, they're all just as important," he said. "It does go under the radar, some of the work I do, but as long as I get the feedback from the manager, I'm not too fussed.
"But the way we play, a lot of the stuff comes through me. It comes from Lee in goal, the two centre-halves too and they constantly give me information, and that helps my game.
"The last few games have been tough because teams are starting to put a striker back, or a number 10 onto me. We spoke about me getting into positions to still dominate and control a game from a different position. Fair play to Russ and Luke for that, and I've tried to take it on-board."
Houghton's excellent game against Bristol Rovers on New Year's Day saw him control the tempo of the game and his ball over the top to Kieran Agard ensured the win with five minutes to go. As the team grows more confident with the way Martin wants them to play, Houghton's time on the ball has increased and that was reflected at Stadium MK.
Speaking after the game, he said: "I got a lot more touches today, but that comes from the authority we have when we play out. I know sometimes fans have squirmish moment but it helps me. When we play that game, their strikers got really frustrated after just 15 minutes. Their whole demeanour was deflated, they were on the way down and we were going up another notch.
"Sometimes it can be touch-and-go, but that's what we've all bought into. It helps me because teams then drop off and give me more space."