Asking to leave was a defining moment in Kemp's MK Dons career

Dan KempDan Kemp
Dan Kemp | Jane Russell
After recognising his chances would be limited, Dan Kemp faced a choice at MK Dons

Dan Kemp admitted he had two options when his MK Dons career threatened to stagnate - mope or move on, and he chose the latter.

Barely getting a sniff of first-team action in his first year at the club, Kemp had a successful loan spell with Hartlepool United, scoring 10 goals in the north-east despite their relegation to the National League.

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Returning to Stadium MK in the summer, under yet another new head coach in the form of Graham Alexander, Kemp quickly became aware he would not suit the way the ex-Motherwell boss was looking to bring in.

Even before Alexander's arrival though, Kemp's time on the pitch in a Dons shirt was desperately lacking. In 18 months, the former West Ham United and Leyton Orient man had made just 14 appearances, and only three league starts. Brought in by Liam Manning, who knew him from his time with the Hammers, Kemp failed to lock down a spot, before he departed to Hartlepool while under the watch of Mark Jackson.

Brimming with confidence after his loan spell at Victoria Park last summer, Kemp said he approached Alexander with the idea of going out on loan again, keen not to let another six months pass with limited football.

"It was my decision," he said. "I looked at the system and where I was fitting in, and I don't think it suited me. It was an open conversation I had with Graham, and I told him I don't think it was going to suit my style. I was so high off what I did at Hartlepool, I needed to go again, I knew it would be massive for my career. The club was great for me, they recognised that it was better for my development.

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"Even before I went on loan, I was confident in my abilities but I never really got the chance unfortunately. You then have two choices: you either feel sorry for yourself, and doubt yourself, or you stay resilient and believe in yourself and find other avenues. I kept my head down and worked hard, but I knew it would be down to me to go out there and show what I could do. I hoped and prayed for an opportunity but I wanted to play football, so I went out to prove myself and show everyone what I could do."

He continued: "There were some tough times though when I wasn't in the squad (at MK Dons), and couldn't help the boys. It was difficult. But at the end of the day, that's football. It was a tough period but it's one I'll look back on and know I dealt well with. I look back at it and think it was a defining moment in my career. It has paid out, but you never can really know what will happen."

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