Dons close to signing centre-half, while strike trio aim to impress

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WITH three strikers desperate to prove themselves on MK Dons’ pre-season trip to the Republic of Ireland, Karl Robinson could be forgiven for getting excited about the upcoming League 1 season.

Deon Burton, Juanfri and Derek Riordan have all joined up with Dons on their two-week training camp in Dublin, with manager Robinson considering whether or not to offer any of them a deal at stadium:mk.

And with a centre-back set to complete a medical with the club on Thursday morning, things are looking good for Dons, who have been named as second favourites to win promotion this season.

“The only pressure we feel is the pressure we put on ourselves,” said Robinson. “We’re not worried by what the bookmakers say – but they’re not often wrong, put it that way. The players are looking great at the moment, really fit and ready to go now.”

With the calibre of strikers on trial, Robinson says it shows how far the club has come in attracting big names to test their mettle with his squad.

He said: “Deon Burton is a very accomplished striker, while Derek Riordan has proven himself up in Scotland – and is the third leading scorer in SPL history – and Juanfri scored a hatful of goals in Spain. His English is getting better – I think I’m teaching him Scouse!

“But it shows how far the club has come that we are attracting these types of player on trial.”

And Robinson hasn’t ruled out signing more than one of the trio currently on trial, citing the need for as many attacking options as possible as his Dons side look to improve on the 107 goals they scored in all competitions last year.

However, he admitted that he wants to change the system in order to incorporate one of Dons’ top performers from last season, and is ready to test the strength of another potential signing when he arrives on Thursday.

He said: “I’m already planning on changing the system a little bit because I want Shaun Williams to play in the midfield.

“To do that, we need to make sure we’re secure at the back. So we’re flying out a centre-half to carry out a medical.

“Having four central defenders at the club will give us cover when we need it and great options when they’re all fit.”

But if the trialists don’t tickle his fancy before the start of the season, Robinson hasn’t ruled out another dip into the loan transfer market, despite having his fingers burned several times last term.

“It’s not completely out of the question,” he said. “But we’ll see where we are when the season starts. We might find that we need some extra cover, so it’s a market we’ll have to look at if the time comes.”