Dons' academy stars need to get 'beaten up' to prepare for first-team action

The impressive teenagers in MK Dons' academy could benefit from football elsewhere
The next step in the journey for the MK Dons academy players could be loans away from the clubThe next step in the journey for the MK Dons academy players could be loans away from the club
The next step in the journey for the MK Dons academy players could be loans away from the club

With plenty of impressive debuts made on Tuesday night from the youngsters of MK Dons, Mike Williamson said the next stage in their development may involve playing elsewhere.

The 3-2 win over Northampton Town in the Bristol Street Motors Trophy saw nine academy products take to the field at Stadium MK, with six debuts and two full debuts among them.

Stand-out performances came from the likes of Charlie Waller, Keon Lewis-Burgess and Albert Wood on the night, with centre-back Waller not only the top performer on the night, but also getting a goal to draw Dons level early in the second-half.

While their promise was clear, head coach Williamson feels the next stage of their development could involve playing football away from Stadium MK, out on loan to gain experience playing where they can get 'beaten up' and learn the ropes of senior football before coming back into the Dons fold.

"The next step with them will be going out on loan, playing men's football, getting beaten up and getting integrated into that side of it," said Williamson.

"You can see already technically and tactically will be good enough, but they need to be introduced to that fierce environment where the outcome really matters, bonuses, paying mortgages and the old school mentality, and whether they can stand up to that.

"The more we can bring through the ranks, work with the lads every day, the more they can progress."

And the prospect is something 18-year-old Waller hinted at earlier this week too.

"Whatever the manager asks of me, I'll do," he said. "If I can kick on and get into the team then great, but if not, whatever the club thinks is best for me, I'm happy to do it."