Dip in form offers Dons’ fringe players a chance to stake a regular claim

The Papa John’s Trophy game might not mean a lot in terms of qualification, but it will be important to get back to winning ways for MK Dons

Monday, 25th October 2021, 11:32 am

Chris Hogg (L) and Liam Manning watch on during MK Dons’ 3-0 defeat to Rotherham on Saturday. Manning said he will make changes for the visit of Aston Villa U21s on Tuesday.

After losing three of their last four games in League One, Liam Manning said players getting a chance in the Papa John’s Trophy on Tuesday night can stake a claim for a start at Crewe Alexandra on Saturday.

Their great start to life under Liam Manning saw Dons’ head coach named Manager of the Month for September, but October has proven tough, losing to relegation battlers Doncaster Rovers and Shrewsbury Town, and though they picked up three points against Wigan Athletic, suffered their biggest defeat of the season to Rotherham United at the weekend.

Tuesday night’s game with Aston Villa U21s is a dead-rubber if ever there was one. Both sides have already qualified for the next round of the Papa John’s Trophy with wins over Burton Albion and Wycombe Wanderers, meaning the only thing really on offer is bragging rights.

For Dons though, winning will give the side confidence and momentum heading to Crewe next weekend as they return to League One action.

As in the previous Papa John’s Trophy games, Manning is likely to make several changes for the game and with Dons’ recent form, he said good performances on Tuesday night may earn them a spot in Saturday’s league side.

“It will be a good opportunity to see some of the other guys again,” he said. “It comes down to the guys, it's on them and how they perform and train. We've got depth in the squad, we've got good quality and people who are pushing to get into the side.

“Some of them will play on Tuesday and it's on them how they perform and deliver. It comes down to performance and opportunity.

“We'll make changes for Tuesday, we'll go hard into that game and then again into the league game next Saturday.”