With the transfer window set to slam shut tonight (Thursday), Chuks Aneke remains an MK Dons player and firmly in Paul Tisdale’s plans - but for how long?
The 25-year-old was Dons’ leading scorer last season, and provided the most assists with 10 of each, but has missed much of pre-season training with yet another injury setback.
He returned to training last week, and was an unused substitute against Oldham Athletic on Saturday as speculation surrounding his future continues to swirl in the build up to the transfer deadline.
The Citizen understands clubs were interested in Aneke’s services earlier in the window but interest cooled before another Championship club came sniffing, though Aneke is believed to be an alternative should their first choice signings not come to fruition.
“He’s an MK Dons player,” said Tisdale when asked about Aneke’s future. “Until anything changes, yes. He’s under contract.
“There has been conversation and debate about it, but I’ve had nothing tangible come to me to suggest he won’t be. I’m talking to him as if he will be here.”
But speculation surrounding Aneke’s future leaves Dons somewhat in the dark when it comes to arranging things for deadline day.
Should a move be made for the forward, it could come too late in the day for Tisdale to seek out a replacement for the talismanic figure.
In a team crying out for a consistent goal-scorer, Tisdale has recruited just one recognised forward so far - Robbie Simpson, who himself admits is not that.
Keeping Aneke will certainly be a big boost for the squad - he provides something which very few, if any players at League 2 level can. A physical presence, Aneke is good with his feet, has a turn of speed, an eye for goal and can pick a pass.
Tisdale appears more than happy to accommodate Aneke in his squad, but the same may not be said of the man himself.
When asked if Aneke was happy to stay at Dons, Tisdale simply said: “You’ll have to ask him.”
Having drafted in 10 players during the summer, Tisdale handed debuts to four of them against Oldham - though it was Ryan Harley’s second debut for the club - and has said if nothing happens on deadline day, in terms of incomings or outgoings, he is happy with the way his team has been assembled, and with both Aneke and Osman Sow due back to full fitness soon, he feels he may not need a new striker after all.
“I am happy with the way it is,” he said. “It’s a long five months until the next window now.
“It will be a circle. I don’t know (whether he will add) to be honest.
“Every window ends with a panic anyway, and it’s much earlier this year.
“Something will crop up we don’t know about or aren’t prepared for so we have to be on our toes and take the opportunity if it presents itself and think about the next five months. I’m not dodging the question, I just don’t know.
“I have to get the balance right between having seven players for those two positions, or waiting for the pair to get fit.
“We have two players of real calibre up there, and when they get back, they will feel like two new signings.”