A new start for a new season for new-look MK Dons

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They’re fit, they’ve responded well and we’re in a good spot going into the game against Cambridge”

It’s time for all the talking to stop and for the football to take over again.

After a five-week pre-season campaign, MK DonsLeague One 2022/23 campaign kicks off on Saturday away at Cambridge United, with the side intent on going one step further this season than they did last.

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“I’m looking forward to it,” said head coach Liam Manning. “We’ve had a solid five weeks of pre-season training, it has gone quickly but we all miss the competitive week-to-week fixtures the Football League brings so we’re all looking forward to it now.

“We’ve lost a week compared to normal but we’ve integrated new players, and some of the tactical elements we’ve been able to cover, we’ve got some really good things into the group.

“And the games have been positive too, seeing the group show what they’ve learned in training. They’re fit, they’ve responded well and we’re in a good spot going into the game against Cambridge.”

While looking to build on last season may seem logical to those looking in from the outside, the team likely to kick-off against the U’s could well look significantly different to the one which left the field in May following Dons’ play-off semi-final knock-out to Wycombe Wanderers.

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And that comes not just in the personnel, but also in terms of the formation, with Dons going through pre-season in a 4-2-3-1 shape.

Those changes then leave Manning comparing apples and oranges when it comes to the new season.

But with the core of his squad from last season still in tact, he said those players will be given extra responsibility this season to bring the 12 new additions to the fore while moving on from the disappointment of last term.

He said: “You can’t compare it to last season - it’s a different group. We have to be clear that the players who stayed from last season have to step up, they know the culture and the style, so I’ll be leaning on those players - guys like Warren O’Hora, Skip, Josh McEachran, Daniel Harvie, Tennai. We’ll load them up with responsibility to help those who have come through the door.

“We have to be realistic with the gelling, relationships and alignment because it takes time.

“There are learning experiences to take from last season, but we have to move on and deliver this year.”

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