Darling set to return for MK Dons after suspension but Robson is out

Could Manning keep the same defence which kept Dons’ first clean sheet in nearly two months?

Monday, 22nd November 2021, 3:29 pm

Harry Darling scored Dons’ only goal of the game against Stevenage last week, but was sent off in the final minute of extra time, leading to his ban from Saturday’s win over Burton

After missing his first league game in an MK Dons shirt since signing in January, Harry Darling is set to return on Tuesday night against Sheffield Wednesday but Liam Manning warned no-one’s place in the side is a given.

Darling sat out the 1-0 win over Burton Albion at the weekend as he served a one-match ban for his 120th minute red card away at Stevenage last week. But having called for more defensive stability and clean sheets himself just a week earlier, Dons kept only their fourth all season in his absence - their first in almost two months.

Aden Baldwin came into the side to replace Darling on Saturday as Dons’ defence did not give up a single opportunity on target all afternoon at Stadium MK, and though the 22-year-old is expected to return to the centre of park at Hillsborough tomorrow night, Manning warned no-one should expect to play without performing.

“We’ve got high competition, it’s what we need and it’s what we want,” said Dons’ head coach. “I think if someone knows they’re playing every week, there’s a potential for them to take their foot off it. While we’ve got that in-house competition, I think it’s important we use it to deliver performances.

“I won’t give you the team, but Harry is available again, and Charlie Brown is back from injury as well so we’ve got a couple of guys to come back into the fold.”

One man who will definitely not feature though is midfielder Ethan Robson. Having missed five games with a hamstring injury, Robson took a kick against Stevenage in the FA Cup first round replay on his first start in over a month, limping out in the second half. Not named in the squad for Saturday’s win over Burton, Manning confirmed he will not be involved against Wednesday.

“I can tell you Ethan won’t be available,” Manning said. “He took a knock in the Stevenage game and it’s nothing major but it’s one we don’t want to make worse by throwing him back in. We’re looking after him and managing him correctly so when he comes back, he’s back for good.”